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Zoom Fatigue: Coping with Back-to-Back Virtual Meetings

By Libratum Life, Wellness Team, March 2021

The shift to a virtual world during the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought a new set of challenges to the way we work. One of which is ‘Zoom fatigue’.

'Zoom fatigue’ is the term given to the mental and physical fatigue we experience when we spend an excessive amount of time on virtual calls, leaving us feeling drained and in need of a screen break.

Unlike face-to-face meetings, where we often have time between meetings for travel, casual conversations, coffee or lunch, Zoom meetings are often back-to-back and can be relentless. We can find ourselves switching between Zoom meetings in a matter of seconds, leaving us very little time to regroup or even take a refreshment break.

Coupled with the challenge of internet connection issues, dogs barking, the post-man knocking and family interruptions, not to mention back-ache, sore eyes and a general desire for greater human connection, it’s not surprising that we struggle to keep up.

In research from McKinsey, which surveyed 800 corporate executives from around the world, it is expected that 38% of the workforce will continue to work remotely, compared to 22% before the pandemic. With the new way of working unlikely to shift anytime soon, here are our top tips on how you can survive and thrive successfully in the virtual world.

1.Create the Working Environment You Want

Unlike an office, you can add your own flare to your home working space. As a starting point, collaborate with your employer to conduct a ergonomic risk assessment of your work environment to ensure your desk space protects your health.

Ergonomics is the science of the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It aims to reduce the potential for health risks and problem such as accidents, bodily aches and pains, damage to the wrists, hearing loss and asthma. Investing in the right equipment, such as monitor headset and desk chair can pay dividends. You could be strapped in for a while, so you’ll want to ensure the experience is comfortable and safe.

If you’re working from a small laptop screen, invest in a monitor and HTMI cable so you can view the meeting or presentation at eye level, on a larger screen. This will prevent eye strain and reduce tension in the neck and shoulders from looking down at a screen. A comfortable chair and a footrest are also great allies when it comes to remote working.

If you want to bring a personal touch to your home working experience, try adding plants, inspirational pictures or helpful books and resources to your desk, to make the space feel like your own.

2. Implement a 5-Minute Gap Policy

Schedule meetings so that you end or start with 5 minutes to spare. This time is valuable in helping you reset and prepare for your next meeting. It will also allow you to grab yourself a drink and head to the bathroom, which are both crucial for your wellbeing and maintaining optimal brain health.

Many remote workers struggle with setting boundaries with co-workers. Asking for a 5-minute gap is a great first step towards improved work-wellbeing integration and the chances are your colleague will appreciate the break too.

3. Preparation is Key

So many meetings can take longer than needed because we didn’t take a few minutes to prepare beforehand. Consider outlining the agenda of the meeting in advance so that all participants know what to expect and can add to the agenda in advance if needed.

Preparation can help us to feel more relaxed. Rather than joining the meeting feeling unprepared and anxious, we feel more in control and we’re likely to achieve a better business outcome.

Finally, ensure you carve out adequate time to take care of your wellbeing each day. Whether that means getting up earlier to go for a short walk or popping out during your lunch time. When we don’t take care of our wellbeing for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to stress and burnout. It’s so important to prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing, so you feel happy, healthy and can perform at your absolute best.

4. Stretch at Your Desk

Consider taking ten minutes out of your day to stretch at your desk. The benefits of active stretching for your physical and mental wellbeing are huge, including maintaining and improving your posture.

There are some great resources available on the Hub, including a ‘Stretch At Your Desk’ guide, that provides a set of ‘simple-to-do’ exercises that you can try at your desk.

5. Set Boundaries

When you work from home, the lines between work and home-life can begin to blur. It’s easy to find yourself spending long hours sat at your desk in front of the computer screen without even realising it. Setting clear boundaries between your work and personal life is important. Scheduling time in your diary for self-care ensures you don’t miss out on your regular fitness routine, walk with the dog or allocating time to plan and cook a nutritious healthy lunch. It can also help to set a time to log-off each day, so that you can plan your virtual meetings within the limits of the working day.

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