Productivity

How to deal with videoconferencing fatigue

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Getting distracted, missing out on body language and nonverbal cues and a basic human need for face-to-face contact all add up to make video calls a challenging part of the new world of work. Yet, as they’re unlikely to be going away any time soon, here’s how the experts recommend you make them work for you and your team

When you’re part of a remote team, videoconferencing is an unavoidable part of life. But if you’re feeling drained after a day of virtual meetings you’re not alone – ‘Videoconferencing fatigue’ is a growing concern among many professionals.

And while these calls can’t be avoided, there are steps you can take to help yourself feel refocused and more in control. Here, organisational psychologist Guy Lubitsh and licensed psychologist Tami Lubitsh-White share their tips.

1. Overcome the temptation to multitask
We worked with a manager who explained that he was able to play video games while participating in important business meetings online. Don’t do this! Be accountable to your own presence.

2. Send the relevant information in advance of your call
By limiting your presentation slides or explanatory spiel to a minimum, you can make sure your virtual call time is spent on the high-quality conversations that really matter.

3. Insist on visibility
It’s easier to connect with people when you can see them, so ask your call participants to turn on their cameras – and lead by example by doing the same.

4. Allow for informal ‘virtual water cooler’ time
One important but overlooked part of in-person meetings is the casual conversations that take place before the ‘real work’ commences. With this in mind, it can sometimes be useful to start a call slightly early to allow for team members to connect informally.

5. Schedule time in your day when you’re unreachable
Back-to-back video calls can be especially draining, so try to plan your workday with at least one block of no-call time for concentrated work.

6. Ask for continued feedback during calls
In order to compensate for missing out on important body language or the emotional atmosphere in the room, it’s helpful to encourage your colleagues to provide feedback during calls by raising their hands or using emojis.

7. Regulate your personal feelings
Emotions can be amplified in a digital environment. To avoid getting pulled into unnecessary conflicts, stay calm and remember not to get personal (or take things personally) during work conversations.

8. Don’t give up on difficult conversations
Make a concerted effort to notice and respond to colleagues’ body language and tone of voice. These can give you important clues for what they really need and want. Follow up by creating the space for further personal meetings and conversations.

9. Keep making calls
While it can be tempting to fall back on email communications, if you need to resolve conflict or tension or if there’s a problem or misunderstanding, always aim to pick up the (virtual) videophone.

Dr Guy Lubitsh and Dr Tami Lubitsh-White are the authors of Connect: Resolve conflict, improve communication, strengthen relationships (Financial Times Publishing)

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