At the start of the ‘lockdown era’ a few months ago, many individuals and organisations took to the internet to share a lot of really helpful tips that would enable those of us who would be working entirely from home for the first time adjust quickly and stay productive in our new work environments- our homes.

Amidst all the content, though, there are a few things we have noticed (and you might have as well, if only subconsciously) that pose challenges to our ability to work effectively with our teammates and on our own. These have either not been looked into, or they might have but aren’t being given sufficient attention, along with strategies that will help solve or “manage” them.

Today, and for a few more weeks, we will be looking into some of those issues- why they can be huge problems if left unaddressed, and how you (and your team) can work your way around them.

The first challenge, and probably one of the biggest, is a little something we like to call;

Virtual Comms Fatigue

Have you witnessed or displayed any of the following:

  • Easily losing patience
  • Rolling your eyes each time your phone rings
  • Failing to reach a consensus on some matters brought up during meetings?

    Chances are, you have.

    Gabriel Benois/unsplash.com

    Gabriel Benois/unsplash.com

There’s been a lot of banter on social media about how tiring virtual meetings and messaging can be. This led many to coin the term ‘Zoom fatigue’ or ‘screen fatigue’ while lockdown orders were still very strict in different environments around the world. What we haven’t really heard a lot of, however, is WHY this is so, and how we can solve this problem.

Isn’t it fascinating that mostly working from home should have made things feel a lot easier but instead introduced a different kind of stress?

There are a lot of scientific explanations as to why working from home causes a bit of strain in work relations. A very simple summary is: humans were not designed to communicate perpetually and predominantly via screens.

Allie/unsplash.com

According to BBC Worklife, a few reasons why we experience virtual comms fatigue are:

- Virtual meetings tend to consume more energy because what we lack in non-verbal cues (facial expression, body language, gestures, eye contact, tone and pitch of voice etc), we have to make up for in focus.

- We are more prone to be self-conscious and experience a lot of irritations like silence, network or software problems etc.

Experiencing this several times a day, every day for months can be exhausting!

What can we do about it?

In the past few months, the Micdee Designs management team has looked into the above issues. We researched, discussed, experimented, and it’s safe to say that we have developed a shortlist of changes that will greatly improve the quality of your meetings, as well as staff well-being and productivity.

Visuals/unsplash.com

1. Meetings should have definite agendas and if possible, this should be shared before the date or time they are to hold so everyone comes prepared.

2. Meetings should have a definite duration and each item on the agenda should be timed.

3. Try as much as possible to avoid back-to back-meetings except absolutely necessary.

4. Incorporate mini-breaks that allow your teammates to stretch, use the bathroom if they need to, drink water or grab a light snack.

5. We’re all familiar with the meme, “This meeting could have been an email”. If a meeting can be a team update email or a message on your Slack channel, please delete that Zoom link!

Stephen Phillips/unsplash.com

6. Prioritize non-work conversations.

Check-in on your teammates to find out how they’re doing, how they’re getting on with family, what particular issues they’re facing and how you can help, and sometimes maybe talk about nothing in particular. We all need a good laugh these days.

Looking after each other’s well-being through informal chats is a great way to destress and maintain friendly relations even though we are seeing each other a lot less.

We hope you’ve found this to be an insightful read, and that you will start using some of the tips we shared. We will be bringing to light more of these issues and possible solutions, in the weeks to come so be on the lookout!