No word rose to prominence during the pandemic more than Zoom. Even if we’re using Ringcentral or Microsoft Teams, Zoom has become synonymous with virtual meetings. We all spend all day on Zoom meetings with coworkers, meeting clients for the first time, and even meeting up with distant friends. While virtual meetings can be a powerful tool for connecting people across the globe, being part of dozens of virtual meetings each day can be exhausting. Enter the phrase Zoom fatigue. Zoom fatigue is that feeling of dreading having to turn your camera on at the end of a long day. It’s saying for the millionth time, “Can you all see my screen?” It describes just about any frustration you feel with virtual meetings. So how can we combat Zoom fatigue? How can we ensure our meetings stay productive and don’t become a source of anxiety?
Don’t be afraid to be “Camera Off”
Meeting apps like Zoom and Ringcentral let us connect to our coworkers in real-time, sharing our audio and video. But it can be daunting to be camera-ready for each meeting. Don’t be afraid to be camera off for a few meetings, especially if you’ve been in video meetings all day. In today’s workforce environment, we all have run into Zoom fatigue. So most people will understand if you mention you’re going to be “camera off” for any particular meeting. No need to say, “Oh, my video isn’t working.”
If you’re the meeting creator, you can lead the effort and ensure everyone else’s comfort by letting teammates know ahead of the meeting that they don’t need to be on camera. Unless you’re meeting with a client or potential customer, you can accomplish just as much being “camera off”.
One trick shared by Tech Superpowers support technician Tyler Sadler is to turn off the viewing of your own camera. “Not everyone does this, but many people, including myself, are constantly checking how they appear in the camera. But during an in-person meeting, we don’t see our faces. Turning off your own view of your camera removes a source of distraction that wasn’t present before.”
Opting out of optional meetings
We’ve all been in a meeting when there are far too many “cooks in the kitchen.” What really should have been just a few people or even an email, quickly spirals to a meeting with ten or more people, all invited out of good intentions. Everyone slightly related to the topic is invited to the meeting to avoid leaving anyone out. But these types of meetings aren’t always productive for each person. Tech Superpowers Marketing Director Kjerstin Oh recommends opting out of meetings that you might not need to attend. “That way, you only attend meetings that are valuable to you, or you can bring value to. Divide and conquer.”
If you’re the meeting organizer, consider inviting only those necessary and sending a debrief email after the meeting with significant points discussed and decisions made. If you invite many people, mark those that aren’t crucial to the meeting as “optional” so they feel comfortable declining should they have other deadlines approaching.
Get moving between calls
Human beings aren’t meant to sit all day. We’re just not built for it. But according to the research, the average person spends 12 hours a day sitting down. And given that inactivity is the fourth highest risk factor for mortality, we can all do a better job getting out of our chairs and moving about.
“Take a walk between calls if time allows, even if it’s just around the room. This will sound silly, but even looking out the window helps. Take frequent microbreaks from your screen.” – Juan Blanco.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for quick walks between meetings, consider investing in a standing desk. Harvard researchers have found that standing desks reduce your risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more. If you can’t afford a standing desk, try looking into a desk converter that lets you quickly transform your desk from standing to sitting.
“I have a Humanscale Quickstand, and I love it for flexible working. Aside from the obvious practical use, it’s great for those who don’t want to exchange our favorite traditional desks for motorized or manual sit/stand desks. ” – Aaron Stallings, Director of Smart Spaces.
Even with a standing desk, try to schedule short breaks between meetings so you can get up to grab a glass of water, walk around the house or office a bit, really anything to stretch your legs after sitting for a while to combat Zoom fatigue.
Block time for dedicated work
We’ve all had days where we have a laundry list of tasks to finish, projects with deadlines approaching, and a calendar just overloaded with meetings. This is why it’s essential to block off time in your calendar each week (or even daily) for dedicated work time. Our Digital Marketing Specialist, Nathan Smith, makes it a point to block off a few hours daily for dedicated writing time.
“If I don’t commit a few hours each day for dedicated, undistracted work, I find many longer-term projects just don’t get done. It’s easy for a day to fill up with new requests and meetings, and keeping time to focus on your existing projects is critical to staying on task.” – Nathan Smith.
Keep meetings short
52 minutes. That’s about the longest someone can give their undivided attention to something before needing a break. While this number can vary from person to person, it’s something to consider when setting your virtual meetings to combat Zoom fatigue. If you’re the one scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if this meeting needs to be a full hour (or longer) or if you can accomplish just as much in a shorter timeframe. If you have a lot to discuss, try setting timeframes on every item on the agenda to ensure you discuss every point, or create a series of meetings on the topic rather than one long meeting.
Use the right equipment
Part of the frustration surrounding virtual meetings can stem from blurry screens and choppy audio. Having to repeat yourself often or strain your eyes to see other participants will drive even the most patient among us to distraction. Investing in good conference room audio for your home office can change your meeting experience. While you don’t need to go all out and put the same equipment in your home that your company’s boardroom enjoys, upgrading your microphone and camera can go a long way.
The Yeti Blue microphone is one of the most popular options for YouTube, Twitch, podcasting, and more. This is one of the more affordable options but is good enough to step up your meeting audio.
Regarding your webcam, there are plenty of options on the market that will improve your built-in laptop camera. When browsing, pay attention to resolution, frame rate, and features (autofocus, low-light correction, etc.). Even by upgrading your microphone and webcam, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your meeting experience.
Don’t be afraid of an in-person meeting
Meeting apps have transformed the workplace. They allow us to connect with our teammates and clients across the globe easily. But often, there’s just no substitute for an in-person meeting. Even at Tech Superpowers, where our owner and other employees live in the UK and Iceland, we make an effort to have at least a few in-person meetings a year. There’s a human connection that gets lost in a Zoom meeting. While virtual meetings allowed us to onboard new employees during the pandemic, it was so great to finally meet everyone last year during our first in-person work event. Making one of your weekly meetings in person every month or quarter can help everyone feel more at ease and help build company culture.
It looks more and more like the hybrid workplace is here to stay. With employees working from home or the office, you must be able to meet with fellow team members and clients seamlessly. This means having the right equipment and having it set up correctly. Tech Superpowers has been working in the conference room technology space for decades and has built conferencing solutions everywhere, from Accel’s London headquarters to right here in Boston with the Celtics practice facility. If you and your organization need a step up in the conference room AV department, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!