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How many hours do you find yourself looking at a computer screen or mobile device every day? Like so many others these days, it’s no surprise if you’re looking at a screen 8-10 hours each day. Chances are you’re also more exhausted at the end of the day than those pre-COVID workdays!
Certainly, training from home (whether you’re the trainer or an attendee) has its perks, but the new reality of frequent online meetings or webinars on a daily basis has created a new stressor—communication fatigue for trainers and professionals everywhere. Yes, this is a real thing!
With this perspective in mind, The Bob Pike Group offers up these ways to help you identify and prevent virtual communication or virtual meeting fatigue.
It’s very tempting to schedule back-to-back virtual meetings or virtual classes to “get them over with,” but your eyes and brain need a break. During the break time you schedule, stand up and do some stretches (and get your eyes off the computer screen if you can help it).
During “normal times,” it’s common practice for companies to have a “meeting free” day once a week so that employees can really get down to getting some work done, distraction free. Having a day scheduled each week for no meetings is good advice anytime, but especially now with everything taking place in one location – online and in the home. A lot of lines are blurring as working from home becomes the new normal, so having a break from virtual sessions one day a week offers a good sense of work/life balance for trainers, employees, and learners alike.
Is it a pleasant and comfortable place you’d be happy sit at for the majority of the day as you lead or attend virtual meetings or do other work? Ideally it is a quiet area that is free from distraction (we get that’s not always easy in either a home or office setting!). To help keep your mind sharp and focused – and your eyes from being too strained – find a workspace that offers natural lighting. Also ask yourself if you can find a separate work area where you’re forced to take a screen break from time to time.
There’s no doubt we’ve all led or attended a long meeting that could have been reduced down to half the time. With you and your counterparts all facing the potential for communication fatigue, try to cut down the scheduled time as much as you can so that the time is used efficiently—and to offer that time to yourself and others for a screen break. The Bob Pike Group has even created a series of online crash courses for this reason alone!
We’re all guilty of getting the little email alert icon and stopping what we’re working on to check the email immediately. With minimal in-person contact nowadays, it is even easier to “connect” with others by opening an email or message immediately upon receipt. Turn off those notifications from time to time, especially if you are leading or attending a virtual meeting. It will not only keep you focused, but it helps to set some reply expectations with your counterparts.
Sometimes, a meeting or “how-to” session can be moved to a phone call, email, or online messenger platform. Video conferences are the ideal, but in this time of widespread remote work, our brains become exhausted after 3-4 consecutive video calls. For example, as an L&D trainer, could you create a handy one-sheet printable for smaller, basic topics versus holding a 30-minute video meeting?
Yes, this one sounds a bit odd! But one of the biggest contributors to video call fatigue is keeping the self-view feature open during meetings. Even if you are rocking your working-from-home look, none of us are used to staring at ourselves all day, every day. Self-view can create extra anxiety of how we look, sound, or with what may pop up in our background (kids or pets, for example!). To prevent any sort of communication fatigue from self-view, remember it’s okay to turn off the camera feature whenever you’re not presenting or not expected to talk.
The world has suddenly become extremely dependent on everything virtual this year, so we have no choice but to use the tools and technology to get the work done. While eliminating virtual meetings altogether is not an option, these tips can help you beat virtual communication fatigue once and for all! Check out The Bob Pike Group’s Virtual Training & E-Learning Resource Center for more blogs, podcasts, free webinars on demand and more!