As an L&D professional, much of your workday is spent speaking to employees and maintaining industry relationships. Before COVID-19, you probably accomplished most of these interactions in just a few minutes at conferences and other industry events.
However, as live events are on hold, your calendar is now jam-packed with Zoom meetings.
Turning your home into a workplace, ensuring that your technology works, and double-checking your appearance is much more stressful than walking into a conference room. This ritual can be exhausting, and eventually, you'll feel the effects of Zoom fatigue.
Read more: How to make remote work actually work for you
Here are some expert tips you can leverage to avoid Zoom fatigue:
1. Schedule breaks
Creating breaks within your schedule will help you enter meetings feeling more prepared and focused.
In a live setting, there is usually a brief pause in between meetings. This pause gives you a second to stand up, stretch, and organize your notes for the next meeting.
One study even showed that the most productive employees worked for 52 minutes and then took a 17-minute break.
Be sure to do the same when scheduling a Zoom meeting. Limit your typical hour-long meetings to only 50 minutes long and 30-minute meetings only 25 minutes.
2. Schedule more phone calls
Worrying about your on-camera appearance is another leading cause of Zoom fatigue. Many people spend most of their call prep time worrying about their makeup, background appearance, and other visual factors.
Instead, try to schedule more phone calls whenever possible. If you have to do a video call, consider blocking yourself from view in your Zoom settings. This minimizes distractions and allows you to focus solely on the other people on the call.
As an L&D professional conducting training, you probably prefer to see your learners in order to read their body language. Unfortunately, body language cues are often distorted in a video. One study even showed that a 1.2-second delay in video conferencing software made the person appear less friendly.
3. Rearrange your schedule
Rather than scheduling Zoom calls throughout the day, block off a few hours dedicated just to calls.
Interruptions throughout the day increase frustration and Zoom fatigue as it requires you to constantly stop what you were working on and refocus on another topic.
One study showed that it takes about 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption. If you have three Zoom calls throughout the day, you'll lose about an hour and a half refocusing!
4. Limit non-work related Zoom calls
Before COVID-19 hit, we usually hung out with friends at a bar or somewhere in town. Zoom was just a tool for the workplace. Now, however, we are using Zoom for both work and social events.
Gianpiero Petriglieri, a professor in sustainable learning and workplace development at INSEAD in Europe, says that even when we're on a Zoom call with friends, our mind associates Zoom with work and goes into work mode. As a result, we never really relax and recharge.
"It doesn't matter whether you call it a virtual happy hour, it's a meeting because mostly we are used to using these tools for work," says Petriglieri.
Instead, consider calling friends one-on-one or even using other video conferencing software, like Facebook Messenger, which your brain associates with leisure time.
5. Create several automatic responses
One of the most awkward aspects of Zoom meetings is waiting for everyone else to get on the call. It might just be you and one employee, and most people feel uncomfortable as they don't know what to say.
Particularly in a stressful situation such as onboarding, it's important to have a few small talk phrases you can easily use to break the ice informally.
Read more: Exploring the onboarding process
You can use common phrases such as:
"How's your day been going?"
"Any plans for the weekend?"
"Have you done anything fun during quarantine?"
Or, you can also start by sharing something about yourself like:
"I've been learning how to _____ during the lockdown."
"I'm excited to get back to doing _____ after we’ll all be able to interact safely."
If you have a few jokes you've already tested, you can also use them to break the ice.
While Zoom fatigue is draining, it isn't permanent. Eventually, you'll be able to return to conferences and live events to meet employees, talk to clients, and maintain industry relationships.
In the meantime, try using these tips to reduce Zoom fatigue and video conferencing stress.