No matter how tech-savvy you might be, constantly being forced to use communication platforms and software to conduct meetings every day will tire out even the most energetic of Generation Z workers. Informally dubbed as ‘Zoom Fatigue’, the number of younger employees who report psychological distress as a result of the phenomenon is pushing HR leaders to rethink the value of having frequent video conferences.
Nearly two-thirds of workers aged 18 to 24 said they experience mental and emotional stress from spending an “unprecedented amount of time in front of webcams during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a study from work productivity specialist Virtira; title: “The Webcam Survey – Exhausted or Engaged?”
According to the survey, there are a number of key factors that affect the level of distress among employees. Among them, the fear of being embarrassed by activity in their home while they are on video, the pressure to have their cameras on constantly, and all sorts of distraction from the movement and expression of other attendees.
“Employers need to shift their policies and have candid conversations with their teams about how many meetings they are having and how they feel about meeting on video. As we move towards hybrid work models, virtual meetings with others aren’t going away – so employers have an opportunity to craft policies to improve well-being,” said Virtira CEO Cynthia Watson.
According to researchers, there are a few ways that companies can go about combating ‘Zoom Fatigue’:
Keep the video conference group small
Hold calls to connect employees in small groups, one-on-one meetings, or for the first few minutes of large meetings to break the ice.
Let employees decide if they want to be on camera
Training and communications need to be introduced to make staying off-camera a personal choice when possible. Even with policies, recognise that peer pressure is a key driver of camera use, especially in younger workers, even where it is not required by management or the organisation.
Recognise the value of small talk – even when it occurs online
Meetings are not a substitute for informal office chats or a ‘water cooler’. Businesses need to introduce and train managers and employees on the use of collaboration workspaces where informal updates can occur 24/7, synchronously, and asynchronously.
Keep the invites to a minimum
Packing extra people into a call where they do not need to be sucks time and productivity. Invest in good meeting notes with a meeting recording so they can quickly update themselves on what they need to know and have more uninterrupted work time.