Recorded videos and other tips to fight ‘Zoom fatigue’
We were already suffering through too many meetings before offices closed and working from home became the standard. Since nobody really planned for that, the first several weeks saw many meetings as we tried to figure out how to run businesses remotely. By now, we should have settled into a routine and employees generally know what’s expected of them and how to accomplish their tasks. Yet many of us are still sitting through too many meetings, and the worst part is it can leave us chained to our desks while people invade our homes through video calls. Zoom fatigue is real. Christine Umayam, senior content marketing manager for content creation platform Screencast-O-Matic, sat down with BOSS—over Zoom, naturally—to discuss how to combat it.
Make It Count
Not only can meetings get boring, the more you have the more you diminish the message. Schedule too many and you risk becoming the boy who cried “wolf.” They can’t all be that important. Umayam suggests prioritizing employees’ time with alternatives to live calls.
“We’re in the middle of ‘chaos’ at home. Some of us have kids who are being home-schooled. We have to reschedule our lives at home to fit in live video meetings. We need to understand that there are other ways to communicate with our team. You can record video to replace live calls. With recorded video, your team can open a video link to watch it on their own time,” she said.
Productivity and efficiency are more important than being present for a meeting. Be strategic about when a live call is necessary. Periodic reviews and brainstorming sessions can elicit more engagement if they don’t occur amid a flood of seemingly pointless other live meetings. “There are certain moments we need to prioritize and strategize over when it’s effective to have a live meeting and when it’s not.”
Trust Your People
A lot of people have to adjust their work hours depending on what’s going on at home. Maybe they can’t start their workday until they finish homeschooling their kids.
“That traditional mindset of 9 to 5, that really needs to change during remote work. There needs to be much more flexibility. That’s the No. 1 thing that (organizations got) wrong in terms of going remote so fast.”
It was a shock in March to transition so quickly and unexpectedly, but the old-school office mentality simply doesn’t work given the situation. A brief recorded message to your team to set expectations for the day can be much more effective than a live meeting with a set time. It’s also advantageous to the companies that have realized they can now hire the best qualified candidates regardless of location. Hours might vary, but as long as the work is being done and being done well, that’s what matters.
You can even record brief video messages to give feedback individually rather than in front of the whole team. Video is a much better medium for conveying tone than email or chat.
Keep It Short
Don’t simply replace long, boring meetings with long, boring videos, Umayam says. “Five minutes is a good number. Most people will go through a 5-minute video versus a 10- or 20-minute video. So, if you can get your objectives down in 5 minutes or demo a process, then it’s better. If it has to be a long meeting covering many different subjects, break that apart into 5-minute increments so then it’s digestible.”
You can record presentation slides and add visuals to a prerecorded (and edited) video to drive home your point and make it more concise than trying to do too many things at once with the pressure of live-streaming.
“You can edit in, be funny, be creative, add in some screenshots or videos,” she advised. “Putting in some creativity and personality can add a bit of office fun.” The camaraderie we miss from being together can still be there. Again, this will make people pay attention.
Have Fun & Relax
In the absence of team outings, many organizations have turned to virtual happy hours. While these are well-intentioned, without the ability to move freely, employees can see it as another forced meeting— and this one after hours.
“I’ve heard of some companies turning happy hours into little competitions,” Umayam said. Trivia or creative contests with prizes can spice up the event and incentivize people to stay checked in and feel like part of the team.
If it’s one of those days when you just can’t get away from the computer, take a few minutes for yourself when you can. “I get away from my desk and go into another room,” Umayam, who’s been working remotely for more than two years, said. “I take my dog out. I do things outside of my office just to feel like I still have a space to go to.”
Know What’s Important
Remote work is here to stay. Organizations and managers have to adapt their mentalities to that reality. “There are multiple ways to communicate other than being live,” Umayam said. Live meetings on a regular schedule to set an agenda for the week or the month are great, and people can make that a part of their routine.
If you or someone on your team is leaving for vacation, record a video detailing the steps of whatever task needs to be done and send it to whoever’s responsible for filling in. That person can watch the video and ask any questions, then still have something to refer to while you’re gone. If more than one person is taking over the duties, each has the recording as a mutual reference point to divvy up the work.
As for the rest of the time, lines between work and home life are blurred. People need slack and understanding.
“If they need to get projects done and there’s a deadline, strategize that. Make sure you’re not on a call every day trying to get an update. Give them the flexibility to complete the work.”