Tips to Avoid Video Fatigue While Working Remotely
June 3, 2020 by Lynn Faughey
Back in April, I talked about how we’ve all had to adapt to a new way of doing business.
At FlexPro, we’re doing the best we can to continue business as usual during these very unusual times. I think we’re all thankful to be able to do remote work when many cannot and are adapting to our new circumstances using the technology available to us. Because we’re used to having members of remote teams in other locations, we’ve always utilized video conferencing to stay connected in real-time. This versatile tool has never been more valuable than it is right now.
Video conferencing is a great tool and its popularity has exploded in recent months. Everyone seems to be jumping on Zoom or House Party video chats to stay in touch with friends and family. My work calendar fills up with one video call after another, often with no breaks between them. Sure, it’s good that I can still communicate with the team and we’re getting things done, but is it too much of a good thing? As I’m discovering, video fatigue is real and I’m not the only one feeling it.
I recently read an article by Elizabeth Grace Saunders on fastcompany.com, which talked about what I’ve been feeling. She highlighted several issues that can contribute to video fatigue and ways to combat it. In the past, while working on-site and attending meetings in a conference room, we could get up from our desk, grab a coffee or stop at the restroom, before heading to the meeting. We had a chance to move and step away. Now, instead of walking from one meeting to another, we’re logging into it with just a few clicks of the mouse. Video meetings can take a bit to get used to. Navigating multiple platforms, properly using the mute button, sharing screens, and staying within camera shots are all new and interesting issues to deal with. If your calendar fills up like mine, you’re often jumping from one meeting to the next without a chance to breathe.
Sometimes I miss getting up and moving around. Staring at the screen all day is tiring (especially when also looking at myself!). One way I get around this is to schedule my video meetings for 50 minutes instead of 60 minutes. When I’ve got multiple meetings in a row, it gives me a chance to get ready for the next one or just get up and stretch. When it’s a very informal meeting with close colleagues, we’ve even done a walking meeting – which works really well if there are no visuals needed. Or, we even go old school and just have a phone call!
Another reason I like to schedule 50-minute meetings is it can be hard to sit still with the webcam for longer than that. Movement seems magnified with the webcam and when you’re watching someone who is fidgeting around and going in and out of the camera view, it’s enough to make you seasick. If you are using Zoom, it helps to use the “active speaker” view option as well, having the main speaker as the larger screen and everyone else in smaller thumbnails. I find it much less distracting than “gallery” view and “Brady Bunch” squares.
In the article, Saunders also suggests changing positions for calls if possible. Maybe use a stand-up desk or put your laptop on a counter, or other piece of furniture higher than your desk, so you can stand instead of sit, just to change it up. I also find it helpful to intersperse other informal collaboration tools amongst my video meetings. At FlexPro, we use Asana. I know other companies that use Slack. Both of these tools foster informal and quick group collaboration without the need for a meeting or emails with “reply all.”
We’re all learning to adapt to this new way of working and finding many different and creative ways to get through the workday. Face masks, social distancing, and even virtual happy hours are part of our lives, at least for now, and we’re all making it work. I’d love to hear how you’re combatting video fatigue and other working from home issues.
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