COVID-19 forever changed the way many businesses structure their meetings. What once took place inside a conference room now takes place in virtual meetings that are now backed by easy-to-use software and tailor-made home offices.
Virtual meetings have a lot of advantages: convenience, employees no longer waste time commuting, reduced rent, easier scheduling, etc. These benefits are why many businesses have decided to continue remote meetings even if they require workers on-site part of the time.
On the flip side, virtual meetings come with their own set of challenges. This article will take you through those challenges and a few options to overcome them so that your employees have healthy job satisfaction and feel less drained.
Humans are social creatures. Regardless of being an introvert or extrovert, we are driven to connect, and not being physically around other individuals can cut out potential camaraderie.
These connections at work have been shown to reduce stress and fatigue. Confiding with someone experiencing a similar situation validates and normalizes their experience. Essentially, employees feel they aren’t battling alone.
Working remotely doesn’t need to put an end to this type of communication.
A possible remedy for this would be to encourage cross-talk before or after each meeting. Connecting with others means sharing something about yourself, about your family, your pets, even your dreams. Here are a few exercises you can use to spice it up.
- Everyone shares a fun fact that no one else knows.
- Ask all attendees what is the first thing they would buy if they won the lottery.
- Show the camera a personal artifact with memory or importance that you can share.
There are countless ways to make it personal and be seen. Something as simple as giving everyone time to share instead of allowing one or two people to dominate the entire meeting can help engage the entire staff. This involvement will let everyone’s issues be heard and ultimately decrease employee burnout.
Turn Off Cameras to Reduce Fatigue
When people are being watched, they act differently. They may react more animatedly when told a surprising fact. Women especially report that they tend to feel pressure to look effortlessly flawless. Some workers may have an intense fear that their children will walk in or cats will jump in front of the screen.
In addition, looking at our own faces can be stressful on its own. Viewing what we look like when exhibiting any emotion can take us away from the meeting, and even just seeing how our resting face looks can be jarring.
The solution isn’t to turn everyone’s camera off. Instead, give employees autonomy to choose whether or not to use their camera. After all, employees who feel autonomous and supported at work are more likely to perform at their best.
In real life, a normal conversation has a natural rhythm and flow. It can be difficult to replicate this flow in virtual environments when internet speed lags, the camera freezes, or the audio makes someone sound like a garbled chipmunk.
According to the University of Arizona, poor audio or video quality is a significant source of remote meeting stress, sometimes referred to as “Zoom Fatigue.” It can be even more worrisome when the speaker doesn’t realize they are experiencing these issues. An easy way to prevent this is to check your mic and camera before each meeting.
Finally, if you have been experiencing frequent lag or freezing, it is good to check your router and internet connection.
Set an Agenda
If people turn up to a meeting with random questions, it could cause the speaker to stray off-topic or go over the meeting time. At the same time, if someone had prepared a long speech when not prompted, it could catch people off guard and unprepared.
A way to avoid this is to have a solid objective. Start with a list of items you want to cover and calculate approximately how long each point will take. For longer meetings, try to break everything down into 10-minute chunks to maintain focus and engagement.
When you have an agenda together, share it at least 24 hours before the meeting. You’ll give people the time to do their thinking before the call and maximize the return on your time.
Developing an agenda is an excellent opportunity to encourage participation by asking your attendees their thoughts on the topics. One could even ask for questions before the meeting to facilitate conversations.
Lastly, a well-planned meeting should avoid going over the allotted time. It is important to respect everyone’s time and workload. Some employees with a tight schedule get derailed when a meeting lasts a lot longer than expected. Setting a time limit will help ease a strained workday and inevitably increase productivity.
Virtual meetings do not appeal to everyone, and despite their upsides, there are also some notable disadvantages that businesses should consider.
Remote work can be difficult; however, it is here to stay. As a business owner, the best steps you can take are to ensure that your meetings are inclusive, effective, and well-organized to reduce fatigue and build team solidarity.