2021 WFH Resolutions…Combatting Conference Call Fatigue
2020 was quite the year. Many of us, almost a year later, continue working from home, sometimes alongside a spouse, and sometimes alongside one or more children doing virtual learning. Our homes have become repurposed, multipurposed, shared workspaces where we compete for bandwidth and a moment to think in silence. It can be trying for all involved, to say the least.
Go back in time to the video conferencing of five years ago. Geographically dispersed employees possibly drove to a main office location to sit in special meeting rooms equipped with the hardware and software to enable audio and video connections, not to mention a tech who could help us get it running. It was not at our fingertips and it was not user-friendly.
Now fast forward. Remote workers along with a global pandemic and collaboration technology has skyrocketed. Face-to-face meetings with coworkers, friends and family have been replaced with virtual interactions via webcam and headset.
We are still very much in need of this type of interaction and with few face-to-face meetings being allowed we are required to resort to other means. But this comes at a price and that price is zapping our focus and our energy.
New phrases like “Zoom Fatigue” and “Zoom Doom” have become common in everyday vocabulary. Our ability to focus and the energy to drive creativity and problem-solving is being tested. According to Kansas University Communications Studies Professor Jeffrey Hall, we use more energy during a Zoom call compared with other modes of communication, such as face-to-face, texting, or even social media.
For some of us it’s staying focused on calls that last an hour or more or it may be seeing and hearing yourself speaking on video, for others it could be the anxiety a live video call puts on them. Whatever the reason, video conferencing doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
However exhausting numerous daily live video calls may leave you the technology will likely continue its boom well into the future. So, what can you do to combat it in the New Year? Search the internet and you’ll find several recurring themes to help relieve the fatigue – avoid multitasking, schedule breaks in your day, email instead of video call, reduce meeting lengths, reduce meetings period to name a few.
It’s up to each of us to find new ways to communicate, to develop meaningful connections without draining our internal resources or dreading that next call. In 2021, gift yourself some video-call/screen free time. Take a walk, practice deep breathing, hug your kids, put your face to the sun. It’s up to you how you spend the time you take just be sure to take some time for you.
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 Jeffrey Hall, Relating Through Technology (Cambridge University Press, 2020)