The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live. For over a year now, most Americans have adjusted to living, working, and going to school at home. Remote work has become more prominent than ever, and during the height of the pandemic, it was the best way to keep people safe while still allowing them to work.
Now that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, some people are getting back to in-person work. Other businesses, however, have chosen to remain remote. Businesses enjoy several perks from offering remote options, including easier recruitment and retention. Plus, it’s more cost-effective.
For employees, though, remote work might not always be so beneficial. It sounds great on paper, and there are certain benefits. It can increase productivity while allowing for more flexibility. Thanks to the prominence of remote lifestyles, though, video calls have taken over people’s lives.
As a result, some people are experiencing burnout from their remote positions. Others are struggling with a new issue called Zoom fatigue. Research from Stanford has already discovered that women seem to be more susceptible to this fatigue than men.
If you’re going to have your team remain remote, how can you help them fight fatigue? What can you provide to cope with remote work burnout and make the most of their work-life balance?
1. Make meetings effective and efficient
You’ve probably heard the joke about a meeting that could have been an email. Unfortunately, there’s a kernel of truth to every joke. As of March 2021, Zoom was logging 300 million daily meeting participants. Meetings are often necessary for collaboration. It’s normal to want to make sure everyone is on the same page when you have employees working all over.
But, by changing your strategy, you can avoid hosting so many meetings and help to fight against burnout for everyone (including yourself). There are several ways you can collaborate with others without having to put together a face-to-face call, including:
- Creating a video presentation
- Asking for status reports
- Instant messaging
If you’re hosting a remote strategic planning meeting, for instance, there are plenty of tips that can make it as efficient as possible. Utilize tools like brainstorming boards and focus on meaningful conversations. This is a great way to make sure everyone feels like the meeting is important and not just a waste of time.
Everyone wants to feel like their input is valued. If a meeting is nothing more than one person talking, it’s not necessary. Choose another option. Or, hold meetings with the intent to listen to everyone’s ideas and foster collaboration. Doing so will help people to get excited and feel motivated, rather than burnt out.
If you’re an employer, you can even get excited and motivated about brainstorming sessions. Seeing the people who work for you reignite that spark and throw around their best ideas can be affirming and inspiring.
2. Fight back against zoom dysmorphia
Another reason you might be feeling burnt out by video meetings is due to Zoom Dysmorphia. This is another new term coined through the pandemic, but it’s a very real thing. We touched earlier on the fact that women seem to be more susceptible to Zoom fatigue than men. In fact, that same Stanford research found that one in seven women felt “very” to “extremely” fatigued after Zoom calls.
While several factors could contribute to that, Zoom Dysmorphia has become a big one.
This new condition is a reflection of how people see themselves on a screen every day. When you’re in meeting after meeting, you have countless opportunities to stare at yourself on a screen. Unfortunately, some people don’t like the way they look. You might start to pick out your flaws, or even see flaws that aren’t really there. The dysmorphia aspect can cause you to notice things about yourself that no one else ever would. This condition can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression, adding extra stress to your life.
If you struggle with your looks when you’re doing a video chat or you want to offer your employees some comfort, consider some of the following:
- Identify negative self-talk and patterns
- Turn off your camera/make it optional
- Practice self-care
- Work on loving yourself
- Seek counseling
It’s easy to burn out when you’re constantly judging yourself on a pixelated screen. By finding ways to cope with Zoom Dysmorphia, you can focus on your job and not your looks. Encourage your employees to do the same by fostering a remote environment of self-care and balance.
3. Find other ways to connect
It’s far too easy to trick yourself when you’re on a Zoom call or even talking to a friend on FaceTime. Society has gotten so used to it, that you might be trapped into thinking that takes the place of actual connection.
The reality is, humans need real, social, physical connections. If you’re only communicating with people via conference calls, Zoom, or other video platform methods—you’re diminishing your ability to connect with people as human beings rather than digital versions of themselves.
Not only do Zoom calls make it harder to connect, but they make it difficult to establish trust. When you don’t get a clear picture of what a person is doing, it’s hard to be completely open. In a work environment, that might hold you back from expressing your ideas or opinions.
So, what can you do? Find your support system – in person.
Spend time with the people you love, even if that means playing a board game or going for a walk with the people in your house. Have coffee with a friend. Go visit your mother. Or as an owner or manager, provide opportunities for socially distanced events with your team.
Make it a priority to have as much in-person interaction as possible. Doing so will give you the human connection you need. So, next time you need to hop on a Zoom call, that need will have already been fulfilled.
Fighting burnout is an ongoing process
Employers should constantly be working on ways to fight employee burnout. Frustration and a lack of motivation are two common culprits. If you’re worried that employees under you are experiencing those things, make sure to check in with them. Encourage offline interaction, and do what you can to make your business personal again.