Remote Work is Here to Stay: How to Survive Video Call Fatigue

 


KEY POINTS:

  • The pandemic urged companies to re-examine their current operations by compelling them to shift to online platforms.
  • People should start getting used to the work-from-home set-up because it is here to stay, even after the pandemic.
  • Online meetings are not for everyone, but there are several ways to improve your virtual experience and avoid video call fatigue.

 

At first we all thought working from home set-up would be a temporary arrangement caused by the rising cases of COVID-19.  Although the disruption from the normal work setting started off as inconvenient, many employers saw the positive aspects of this set-up.  In fact, lots of companies have already expressed their intent to fully embrace remote work even after the pandemic.

Though company leaders have seen the positive benefits of a remote set-up including less overhead and operating costs, it can also bring some negative effects on the team, one of which is video call fatigue.

Video call fatigue is a phenomenon that has been common since the pandemic began. Virtual hangouts were fun at first, but there's no denying that it can get draining sometimes. The prolonged screen time, which was initially meant to help people connect and communicate in a time of isolation, actually plays a counterintuitive role as it leads to the lack of eye contact, limited attention, performance pressure, and more. According to an article by National Geographic, virtual meetings take away the intimacy of communication as it removes the presence of non-verbal cues, it challenges the brain to multitask, and it overwhelms the user. 

Here are some tips to make the best out of your virtual experience and help avoid video call fatigue.

 

 

Have a morning routine

Wake up, take a shower, and eat breakfast. Maybe squeeze in a bit of exercise, if there’s time. Having a morning routine helps in mentally preparing yourself for the day ahead. Since video calls are the new norm, treat video calls and virtual meetings as if they were physical office meetings. Having the proper mindset before beginning your day aids in easing anxiety and avoiding video call fatigue.

 

Invest in a good environment and equipment

If you’re going to treat virtual meetings as physical ones, it is important to have an environment that is conducive for such activities. It’s not just the absence of background noise, but also the aesthetics of your background. It’s best to keep it plain and neat. You can even go the extra mile by investing in various online essentials, such as office chairs and headsets.

 

Normalize having off-cam meetings

Even though virtual meetings are supposed to be similar to physical office meetings, we can't overlook the fact that there are some limitations that we have to consider. A study done by Stanford researchers reported that close-up eye contact and seeing yourself virtually may cause fatigue. So unless it’s mandatory to keep your cameras on, give your camera a break. It will help in easing the pressure and intimidation that usually adds to the video call fatigue.

 

Stay focused on your meeting

Regardless if you’re bored or if you just feel like you can be more productive, it is important to resist the urge to multitask during meetings. Your brain is already having trouble processing information from video calls, and doing something else will just make it worse. So the next time you feel tempted to scroll through Facebook or respond to an email, close your web browser, put down your phone, and remember that multitasking can affect your productivity and output quality.

 

Reduce screen time and take breaks between calls

The digital age already required the excessive use of technology, and this was made worse by the work-from-home set-up. So when you’re done with your video calls, turn off your gadgets and take time to rest your eyes. Get up and walk around or stretch.  Taking breaks between calls give you a chance to regroup and reboot for the rest of the day’s work or yes, the next call.

 

Optimize your time

Not all discussions need to be done through virtual meetings. Part of getting used to remote work is knowing which agendas call for an email or a meeting. Do yourself and your co-employees a favor by limiting virtual meetings only when completely necessary. It won't just save you some time, it will also save you the trouble of physically and mentally preparing yourself for more virtual meetings.

 

Talk to your company’s HR team

In a time of social distancing and isolation, companies have given more priority to employee engagement and employee wellness. Take advantage of your company’s HR services to know that you’re not alone. Lots of people are struggling to cope with the adjustments brought by the pandemic, and talking to HR might help both you and your company. You can get tips on how to improve your virtual experience, while giving them more ideas as to what further adjustments need to be made.



We have to accept the fact that video calls and online meetings are already part of our reality, and will still be around even after the pandemic. Employees and employers, although skeptical at first, have already experienced the perks of remote work, such as increased productivity, flexible work hours and lower costs.  We need to remember that excessive online meetings can also be detrimental to our well-being. It is important to make the necessary adjustments and adopt best practices to manage and prevent video call fatigue.