18th August 2020
by Charlotte Wilson
Communications, Funny, thoughts
Admit it, it’s finally happened. Following months and months of lockdown, working from home, socially distanced eye rolling and witnessing the ever perplexing third dimension that allows Wayne Lineker to be in every social media influencer’s social bubble, Zoom fatigue has finally, and firmly, gotten to us all.
At first it was exciting, novel, something new, something ‘other.’ We coquettishly sauntered towards it like a mysterious femme fatale luring a naïve government agent into a hedonist club in downtown Berlin. We were intrigued, enraptured, hoodwinked. This will take our working lives to thrilling new heights we squealed with maniacal delight, oh the simplicity, the joy the efficiency! We were overcome with lust for our new virtually managed world. We were overwhelmed with stoic optimism.
How silly and foolish we all were. Just like the inexperienced field agent and the femme fatale, the perfumed chloroform is starting to wear off and we’re now all groggily waking up strapped to an uncomfortable chair, facing a never-ending stream of galleried faces both known and unknown. The real kicker? This torture is happening within our very own homes. The audacity of this virtual bish.
So, what is it about Zoom calls that makes our current wfh days more exhausting than our usual working days? Let us enlighten you a little and also advise how TF we dig ourselves out of it…
Multi-tasking is a multi-faceted enemy:
When you’re on a Zoom call you might frequently get distracted by incoming emails, Slack messages, or things that are generally on your to-do list. As tempting as it might seem to attack these things whilst pretending to listen to whatever has been happening on your screen without rhyme or reason for the last 45minutes – don’t. Why? Because this legitimately cuts into your performance, meaning you are distracted from the real issues at hand and can easily lose track of important information that’s being disseminated. Also, if you think that people don’t notice when you’re simultaneously surfing the DailyMail.com (other completely irresponsible faux-news sites are available) or spamming memes to the LADS whilst on a Zoom call, then you’re very much mistaken. Most importantly however, this really does drain your energy in the very worst way, rendering you almost completely useless, not only for work but for paying attention the next brand-new-Netflix-series-that’s-going-to-change-the-world that you’re about to binge on later that day.
Take a break:
Some Zoom calls, for some unknown reason, are long as hell. The likelihood is that this borderline unnecessary drain on your attention span is making you feel very irritated. However, you signed up for this call and now you’re here, and at some point, you might need to engage and make a valid contribution again. That being said, much like a sustained face-to-face group pow-wow you are able to take toilet breaks, lunch breaks etc. So, if the video call is a dumper truck of a time vacuum, then be sure to apply this method to a virtual meeting as well. Take some time away from the screen when you need to, whether this be hiding the browser behind other tabs for a while so you can’t see the meeting room, turning your camera off for a reprise (and allowing others to do the same) or just making sure that you take as extended amount of time as possible between video calls to avoid the inevitable compulsion to blow your brains out. It’s imperative to your attention span (and sanity) that you do this. Stay alive to stay employed, that’s the new government slogan, right?
Reduce onscreen stimuli:
Apparently having too much to look at in a virtual meeting really is a fatigue of the human brain, Harvard says so. Basically, when you’re looking at 5 different people on a screen, all sitting in their own unique homes and offices, your mind become fixated on exploring these different environments. Whether it be some cute interiors you totes wanna replicate and post on your insta, or the disturbing title of an ancient and exotic leather-bound tome you’ve spotted on the bookshelf, your brain will get fatigued from being in numerous different rooms at once, and that is fair enough. Studies show that this is not good for our productivity or creativity at all, so no wonder we’re all feeling the pull of 5pm a lot heavier than usual. Plus, let’s face it, staring adoringly at your own cute face whilst a dozen other people are talking at you is also extremely distracting…
Add an opt-out of virtual social events:
It is a product of our current socially distanced environment, but unfortunately not only have we been heavily relying upon video calls for professional purposes recently, but also for personal events too. However, this does nothing to help the acceleration of Zoom fatigue that we’re all currently feeling. Therefore, it’s important that if your work, or your friends, have organised a virtual ‘happy hour’ or social then you should feel comfortable and confident enough to opt-out if you need to. Speaking on a virtual video platform is actually (not just literally) more physically and mentally exhausting. Why? Because unless there is a rigid agenda and set time for everyone to speak (barrels of fun right?) then people are unsure of when they should chime in without fear of being talked over, talking over someone, or simply being ignored, and thus being irrelevant to the call in the first place.
It is essential and very nice to keep in touch with people, especially when we can’t see them as freely as we would like to. However, in reality, when we’re already stretched with our virtual screen time, on top of trying to fit in all of our other work and family duties into the daylight hours, a social virtual meet is simply NOT NECCASSRY, and it is ok to say it.
Email and phone calls are not illegal:
We must wear masks when shopping, but not when ordering jäger shots and nacho sharing platters, we must isolate when presenting symptoms but get tested and back to work yesterday, we must eat out at McDonalds as much as we can but also lose a stone as quickly as possible. Yes, we know the (very clear and not at all confusing) rules well enough. BUT what is very clearly not against the rules is having a simple phone call or innocent email exchange. Sometimes in fact, it is far more efficient, so don’t be afraid to suggest another digital option instead that doesn’t involve a stranger peering into your home when you might not be quite readily equipped for it. These are strange times and it is still ok to lay down boundaries within your working day, just because you are working from home does not mean that you can’t be in control of who can and can’t physically access you without valid reason.
We hope this blog post hasn’t added to the fatigue that can often be this virtual space in which many of us are having to work during the majority of our working week. Just remember to take a breather, keep your boundaries, and ultimately stay in control of your productivity and creativity as much as you can – professionally and personally.
That being said, now we’ve firmly canned Aunt Jemimah’s Friday night embarrassing-family-history-Zoom-quiz, we’ve got plenty of room for a virtual, phon-ic or eMeet to discuss your next creative, digital or communications campaign. Simply get in touch today, we’re already sure that it’s worth a new Zoom call 😉