It’s official. The pandemic is not over. And there is no imminent return to office nor will there ever be a return to “normal.” This is it — our new work-life reality. And yet, on the cusp of year three of working remotely, it’s time to start fresh and rethink our videoconference work routines.
The phenomenon of “Zoom fatigue” has been frequently mentioned both because it is real — as documented in a number of recent studies — and because it’s a fantastic excuse to be off-camera as a “wellbeing practice.” Given that it is also well documented that seeing each other on-camera is important for human connection and sustained attention, solving the fatigue issue is a more sustainable option than going camera dark.
Here are three powerful hacks for overcoming the challenges of being on-camera:
Stop staring at yourself
Can you imagine if your job required staring at yourself in a mirror all day? It would be horrible. And yet, that’s the primary cause of Zoom fatigue according to a recent study out of Stanford University. Do yourself the favor of a right-click and “Hide self view” once you are settled into every meeting. I like to get there a little early if I can, check out my set-up, play with the Zoom video filters (cinnamon is particularly flattering to me . . .) and then turn off my self-consciousness by turning my face off. It helps a lot.
Bake in regular breaks
The migration to remote work has driven meeting volumes through the roof. Without the convenience of a hallway chat, there’s the perception that everything has to be scheduled. And the default duration? One hour or 30 minutes, despite no logic other than 12 years of education conditioning. Build recovery and transition times into your workday by banning back-to-back meetings. One easy way to do this is to establish 45 minutes and 25 minutes as your standard meeting durations. Email platforms make it easy now to customize your default calendar settings. These microbreaks give you time away from the screen to stretch, pet the dog, and press reset.
Raise the standard
By now, everyone should have established a camera-ready place to work within their home. Whether it’s the dining room table, a bedside desk, or a dedicated office, we’ve had the time to make it Zoom-friendly. If your teammates haven’t made the effort, you might be stuck staring at someone who appears to be in witness protection (entirely backlit with unrecognizable features) or sporting a distracting halo (from an overhanging light fixture). Make the experience easy on the eyes for everyone by raising the standard for virtual environments. If you’re the boss, send an inexpensive ring light to everyone on the team and coach each person on how they can appear more camera-ready.
We’ve arrived at our new work destination and a meaningful part of it will now take place over videoconference. Go easy on yourself and others by taking these few simple steps to make it more pleasing.