Working from home means no morning or evening commute, no need for traditional work clothes and a complete change in our daily work routine. It also means many of us are experiencing video conference fatigue.
A National Geographic article earlier this year highlighted why video calls are taxing on our brains noting that, “For some people, the prolonged split in attention creates a perplexing sense of being drained while having accomplished nothing. The brain becomes overwhelmed by unfamiliar excess stimuli while being hyper-focused on searching for non-verbal cues that it can’t find.” Working out of the office means we do not have the usual hallway conversations, lunch time get togethers or coffee breaks so it’s understandable that our brains, and our overall health, is impacted by these significant changes.
Since I started working solely from home in March, here are some tips I have found helpful to reduce video conferencing fatigue:
- Calendar audit: Conduct a calendar audit and planning session for yourself each week. Think about meetings you may have attended the prior week that you do not need to attend. Look forward to the following week and make decisions on meetings you also do not need to attend. I like to think of it for myself as the 80/20 rule – 80% of results are due to 20% of your activities. Applying that concept to meetings, are there fewer meetings you could conduct that would have minimal to no impact if you decided not to attend? Check out the book The Energy Clock on this topic as it is highly worth your time to read.
- Choose audio only: It is easy to get fatigued when you are repeatedly focusing on your own video or that of others. Are there some meetings you could do as audio only? Consider taking audio only calls while you take a walk to incorporate exercise and break up your routine.
- Protect certain parts of your workday: Consider implementing a “VFZ” – Video Free Zone for a block of your day. Also think about having a “VFD” – a Video Free Day!
- Focus on how you start and stop your day: Try setting strict limits for when you begin and end your day related to the time you spend on your phone or computer.
- Limit multitasking: When you multitask, it can add to your stress and fatigue. Consider limiting the amount or types of multitasking you do during a meeting. Focus on the meeting, rather than also responding to emails and texts.
- Leverage multitasking: On the other hand, leverage multitasking to your advantage to prevent fatigue. For example, sometimes the instant messages during a meeting with other participants can be enjoyable and help to amplify points or understanding of topics being covered. This enables us to feel more engaged.
- Stay on schedule: It is easier said than done but start meetings on time AND look to end them early, if possible.
- Back to basics: Look to revisit or implement fundamentals wherever you can. This can include things like setting a clear meeting agenda, only asking the right number of people to attend a meeting and sending out pre-reads in advance.
- Invest in your overall health: Determine any changes that might help with your overall health and energy. Are you staying hydrated and drinking enough water throughout the day? Do you need a better ergonomic set-up (e.g., stand-up desk, larger monitor)? Are you getting the sleep and exercise you need? Prioritizing your health must be top of mind.
- Be kind: Be kind to yourself and others. No one has the perfect recipe here, so strive to control what you can and do not let “perfect” be the enemy of the good as you focus on integrating any tips or changes that might help you.
Have you experienced video conferencing fatigue since working from home? What has helped you and what advice would you share with others?
Don Antonucci serves as Senior Vice President of Growth for Blue Shield of California. He has more than two decades of experience in the health care industry and is the host of “Healthy Dose of Dialogue” podcast available on Apple iTunes or Spotify. The monthly podcast invites healthcare leaders to share fresh perspectives and engage in healthy dialogue about marketplace trends and industry insights impacting health care today.