Despite having worked with remote teams for a significant part of my career, I’ve been surprised at the impact that spending hours and hours on Zoom has had to my overall energy, outlook and mood. Come most afternoons I feel like I’ve been chewed up and spat out of my digital world like Kevin Flynn in Tron.
Like most of you, I am having to spend more time on Zoom in an effort to remain connected to my post-COVID life. I’ve had Zoom dinner parties, Zoom pub-quizzes, Zoom conferences and Zoom workouts! Whatever will we think of next?
Let’s face it. Zoom (other video conferencing technologies are available) is here to stay. Even when we finally overcome this pandemic, the way we work has changed forever. With most people valuing the benefits of working from home over the normality of working from an office, it will be hard for employers to convince their workforce that returning to the office is a great idea.
So what can we do to more effectively manage ourselves in a virtual world? Here are six of top tips.
1. Be grateful for the opportunity to connect with others using Zoom
Throughout all of this, I’ve been mindful that I am extremely lucky to have people to connect with and the ability to do so. Not everyone is in the same boat. I’ve also had the ability to connect with people that I love but don’t see very often. I’ve also been able to connect with people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds with ease and without the need to travel. All in all, Zoom has helped me to experience connection more!
2. Try to have less meetings overall
“This is the meeting to decide whether we should have a meeting”, “this is the meeting to prep for the meeting”, “this is the follow-up meeting”, “this is the check-in meeting”, let’s face it, we spend too much time in meetings, primarily because most of us are bad at meetings. There are loads of resources available on the internet that describe how to have more effective meetings but the one I have found most useful is to challenge whether I need to be at the meeting in the first place. Ask your meeting organiser to be clear on why they want you at the meeting and look for other ways to meet their need without having to attend the meeting. Encourage your teammates and customers to do the same! and for heaven's sake, think about an agenda, publish it upfront and track actions.
3. Finish meetings 5/10mins early on purpose
I’m going to address the diary Tetris madness in another post but for this post, I am going to assume that your diary is back to back with meetings, as is your colleagues. Get into the practice of finishing meetings 5/10mins early out of courtesy for your fellow meeting participants. This will allow you and your colleagues to get a glass of water, take a comfort break or do a release meditation. Hopefully, your kindness will be reciprocated in future meetings!
4. Make use of the Hide Myself feature in Zoom
Admit it. You are spending as much time looking at yourself in the Zoom preview window as you are listening to what the other person is saying. It’s human nature! Imagine for a second being in a face to face meeting with a mirror behind the person you are trying to talk to. You would be completely distracted! Trying to listen to what the other person is saying but concerned whether or not they can tell that you haven’t washed your hair in days. Disabling the video feed of yourself to your own screen will give you a lot less to worry about and will allow you to focus more on your meeting participants.
5. Revert to standard phone calls where possible
Revolutionary. Try changing the modality of smaller meetings, particularly one-to-ones, to just a telephone call as opposed to a video call. Some people believe you lose some of the connection this way but I believe, for smaller meetings, the connection is enhanced as your brain can focus on listening to what the other person is saying as opposed to having to also process their body language. Now, I’m not saying that body language isn’t important when it comes to communication, it’s massively important, but for people I know well, I can read as much as I need to from their verbal communication. Give it a go!
6. Embrace socially distanced meetings outdoors
I love these. A couple of years ago, a few colleagues and I got into the habit of doing our one to one meetings whilst walking around one of the local parks. I got the idea from the Steve Jobs biography and was responding to some brilliant and very fair feedback from my team that they felt that I wasn’t present when I was in the office (too much going on around me!). This has now become a luxury that lots of our teams are engaging in! Weekly zoom team meetings are now being replaced with a socially distanced walk around the park. Brilliant!
7. Practice the release meditation technique
If you had told me a couple of years ago that this was going to be my secret weapon I would have laughed out loud. I read somewhere that your brain can only take in so much visual stimulus before it slows down and needs to reset. Having a background in technology, this idea really appeals to me as this is kinda like how memory on your computer works - it fills up with so much information that it slows down and needs to reset. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know but it’s a concept that has stuck with me for the past couple of years. So my advice to you is this, schedule time throughout the day (I like lunchtime and around 5pm) to close your eyes for 10mins and meditate. The easiest meditation I’ve found to do is the release meditation which is shown in the video attached to this post. You can thanks me later.
I hope this serves you and gives you some inspiration on how to beat Zoom fatigue and continue to contribute at your highest level. If you would like to get access to more tips and techniques to help you operate at your highest level, subscribe to my mailing list by clicking the link below.