Q: How can I help my team avoid Zoom fatigue? How can we manage virtual meetings while having to work from home?
A: We are living under very unusual circumstances and people haven’t had time to adapt and change. We have also tried to mimic the work routines we had. Working from home as your regular job is very different; consultants know that very well. However, many consultants who work from home travel occasionally if not frequently. Life is active, social and has a rhythm.
With the COVID-19 situation, we were told to work from home, but the situation is very different. We are surrounded by our families, who are juggling their responsibilities. We try to keep a regular schedule, but the interruptions are the norm rather than the exception. We can’t keep up; we are simply fatigued.
“Zoom fatigue” starts to creep in. Why? Virtual connections lack the personal touch and depth. There is also a component of camera self-consciousness and being able to focus and concentrate. Lastly, not everybody has a home office where they can close the door and hide from the rest of the family.
Consider the following when scheduling meetings with your colleagues or clients. Inquire about their preferred mode of communication. Be mindful of their situation at home. For example, if they have young children, it may be best to schedule an evening or very early meeting. The more we manage our meetings, the more productive, rested and happy we would feel.
If it’s not a very large Zoom meeting, make sure participants check in, ask them how they are doing, allow them to catch their breath, and make sure you include everybody. When you wrap up make sure to ask for parting thoughts. This gives the group a feeling of closure and accomplishment, honors the individual, and could potentially avoid a follow-up meeting.
The world needs a paradigm shift to start living and working in new creative ways based on collaboration. Leaders and organizations will need to manage complexity, adapt and create a new reality moving forward. COVID-19 has changed us forever but may be an opportunity to rethink the way we work.
Marcella de la Torre teaches courses at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.