We don’t need to tell you how important your employees are to your business. These days, everyone wants to feel important, represented, and cared for, and the pandemic has thrown us for a loop in more ways than one.
So much of our time is spent on our phones and laptops. If we aren’t engaging in Zoom meetings and answering emails we are reading ebooks and watching Netflix. Sometimes it’s enough to make you want to scream (or at least take a long walk in a quiet, wooded glen). It’s not enough to refer to this as virtual fatigue or even Zoom fatigue—this is burnout from being constantly connected, even when we are apart.
Thankfully, there are ways to help your employees fight virtual fatigue. Here are a few tips on how to tackle that Virtual Fatigue, together.
1. Create an Ergonomic Workstation
The term ‘Virtual Fatigue’ implies exhaustion caused by being in front of a computer monitor for too long. This ‘fatigue’ is frequently caused by poor posture when sitting in front of the computer for lengthy periods, and poor posture is often caused by conventional ill-fitting office furniture. Persisting with this poor posture over several years can even lead to musculoskeletal disorders.
To prevent poor posture, it is paramount to set up an ergonomic workstation, ideally using an ergonomic office chair and an adjustable desk that can fit a user’s body mechanics. When all adjustments have been made, the user should be sitting with his back and neck upright, arms and thighs parallel to the floor with knees at right angles, and feet placed firmly on the floor. The top portion of the monitor should be at the same level or a little lower than the user’s eyes.
In this proper posture, the user should be able to see his entire work (computer monitor, notes, etc.) with minimal bodily movement, without bending his spine forward or tilting his neck to see clearly. This tremendously reduces fatigue and even improves productivity at work.
2. Variety Is Important
How long does it feel like we’ve been quarantined? Even with a return to “normal” life, things don’t feel normal. Many of us still are not in the office, and remote work is here to stay. While your home life is supposed to be a comfort, for many of us it has been a tedious prison. When it comes to shaking things up, remember to change the scenery as often as possible in Virtual Fatigue.
I’m sure you have a well organized, lovely office where you do your work. You answer your emails from your comfortable office chair and you have all your files organized next to your potted plant and family pictures. Still, for a few hours every week, you should consider doing your work elsewhere. Do you have an outside patio? Can you work in the dining room or the den? Even if it is a workday, is it possible for you to go to a coffee shop or even work on spreadsheets in the park?
Human beings need variety, and there is no better way to battle virtual fatigue than to add some variety to your day.
3. Give Yourself A Break
Many of us who have worked through the pandemic have been afflicted with a brand new kind of anxiety. It can be a touch overwhelming to wake up to a deluge of emails, answer work calls and settle into the never-ending workday. But, remember, one of the benefits of virtual work is that we can take more breaks as we need them.
Breaks can be more than refreshing your coffee or eating half a sandwich in front of the fridge. Do some stretches, take a walk outside, watch an episode of a TV show, check in with the rest of your family which can help tackle Virtual Fatigue. Remote work has blurred the line between work and home, and you deserve to take a few more breaks than you usually do. Consider resting your eyes for at least fifteen minutes every couple of hours, especially if you’ve been staring at a screen.
4. Limit Your Virtual Meetings
Have you ever heard the expression “This could have been an email?”
We are at the point when we need to consider whether something should be a meeting, whether the information can be disseminated via email or other services, or if we can reduce the daily grind of cooperative tasks entirely. Wanting to feel more connected is understandable, but the exhaustion of everyday Zoom meetings is starting to wear on people. The next time you have a grand idea for a meeting consider simply relegating that to email or IM.
If you do decide that the meeting cannot be avoided, consider involving more people in the conversation. If you are noticing that your employees are lacking the patience to listen to you speak on a subject for an extended period of time, consider making your meetings more cooperative, even entertaining which can help tackle Virtual Fatigue.
5. Encourage More Screen Breaks
Sometimes those fifteen-minute screen breaks aren’t enough. Similar to upping the variety in your day, consider different things you can do to minimize screen entirely. When you take lunch, do it with no screen time at all. Close your eyes and meditate. If it’s possible, take a short nap during the workday and resume your duties later on. Take a walk. This can reduce your Virtual Fatigue.
You might find that everyone is even more engaged when they are given ample opportunity to take a break from the virtual grind.
6. Create Meeting-Free Time Blocks
We would all like a break from the constant virtual office infrastructure and meetings, and sometimes it needs to be more official than the promise of an email. Consider creating meeting free days (or blocks of time) for your employees that generate the goodwill of knowing there is no meeting looming on the horizon.
You can agree on a particular day or time, such as “No Meetings Wednesday.” Notify everyone who needs to know and make sure you keep to that schedule. If you must make some exceptions to this (or if you need to change the day, for example) make sure everyone knows. If you fear a loss of accountability without meetings, consider the trustworthiness of your time and take stock in the value of a virtual break for less Virtual Fatigue.
7. Talk To Your Team
What is most important is to keep in contact with your team in a positive way and ask them what they need. Does your team need more breaks and less meetings or do they just want to receive more consistent feedback? How often do you do fun things with your team? Have you considered playing video games together or asking CityHUNT to host some team building games?
When you talk to your team, you can directly figure out how to help your employees fight virtual fatigue. Knowing what they want is the ultimate starting point, and sometimes you can’t learn what changes you need to make to the workday from Zoom meetings and emails. Schedule some one-on-one time and make sure your employees feel they are being cared for.
At the End of the Day, We Are All In This Together
We’d wager to guess that everyone is feeling virtual fatigue of some kind. Whether you’re a team leader or an employee you’re still human and you need some rest. Talk with your team. Ask them what they want and what they need, and keep in mind that everyone could use some time to gather themselves.
If you want to maintain a strong business enterprise you will want a group of employees that are inspired and ready to work.