14 steps to beat burnout and zoom fatigue
To survive and thrive, organizations must strategically adopt work-from-home best practices
Posted: Thursday June 3rd, 2021 – 12:02 PM
When the Covid pandemic swept across the country last year, companies quickly switched their employees to work from home (WFH). However, this change has led to increasing challenges of WFH exhaustion and Zoom fatigue.
Unfortunately, organizations treat these issues as day-to-day challenges, instead of recognizing their strategic nature and approaching them strategically. Basically, these problems rod organizations transposing their “office culture” interaction standards to the WFH models. It just doesn’t work well because communication, collaboration, and virtual relationships work very differently than in person.
AT survive and thrive in the remaining months of the pandemic and post-Covid recovery, organizations must make a strategic shift towards best home work practices.
A Strategic Approach to Overcome Work from Home Burnout
Follow these steps to establish WFH best practices:
1. Gather information from your employees about their virtual work challenges. Conduct surveys and conduct focus groups and one-on-one interviews to gain quantitative and qualitative data on virtual work issues in your organization.
2. Develop metrics and determine a baseline. When creating the surveys, be sure to structure them so that you can use the quantitative results to establish clear metrics on all relevant aspects of the WFH challenges. Use this data to develop a baseline before making the interventions below.
3. Educate Your Employees About Needs Deprivation. We fail to recognize that much of what we perceive as WFH burnout is the deprivation of our basic human needs to connection to each other and a meaning and purpose that we get from work. A critical early intervention is to educate employees on this topic.
4. Cultivate the meaning of your employees. Help your employees intentionally develop meaning in the virtual workplace. This includes the use of a assessment tool establish a base of goals, self-reflection activities about one’s work identity and other practices such as relating work to something bigger than you.
5. Cultivate Mutual Connections Using Virtual Native Formats. We want to connect with each other, but our emotions just don’t view the little squares on a screen during a video conference as a real connection, compared to in-person meetings. The mismatch between expectations and reality leads to exhaustion and dissatisfaction with videoconferencing, which we call “zoom fatigue”. To cultivate human connection and a sense of trust, you need to replace office culture bonding activities with innovative virtual bonding activities.
6. Provide professional development in effective virtual communication. There are many tips and tricks for effective virtual communication, but the vast majority of organizations do not offer professional development in this area.
7. Provide professional development in effective virtual collaboration and relationship building. The same tips and tricks, and the lack of professional development, apply to virtual collaboration and relationship building.
8. Launch formal virtual mentoring programs. Ask your senior managers to mentor the more junior ones. This will not only be good for the advice that senior mentors can give, but it will also help address the lack of social connection in a virtual workplace for senior and junior employees. Additionally, it will help senior employees learn how to better manage technology, as younger employees tend to be more proficient with digital tools.
9. Set up a digital coworking. Members of each of your work teams should spend an hour or more per day working digitally with their teammates. Join a video conference (with optional video), with your speakers on but the microphones off, unless you want to ask a question, make a comment, or just chat. Then just work on your own tasks. Digital coworking replicates the positive aspects of working in shared cabin spaces with your team members while doing your own work. This includes building mutual bonds through discussions and collaborations, asking and answering quick clarifying questions, and providing advice and informal mentoring.
10. Financing of teleworking. Provide a budget for your employees to solve technology and connection issues related to virtual work, as well as to help set up a comfortable home office.
11. Cut down on unnecessary meetings. Don’t schedule meetings unless you need to make a decision or get clarification on something that requires synchronous discussion. Use text or recorded video or audio to send reports and updates for others to review and respond to later.
12. Establish a weekly recording and evaluation of the progress report. At the same time, leaders need to individually check in on the progress and well-being of their team members in a 15 to 30 minute video conference per week.
13. Supporting the boundaries between work and personal life. Too many leaders expect employees to work after hours and turn down requests for flexibility. Some employees, afraid of job security, voluntarily take on too much work. Leaders need to tighten the boundaries to reduce burnout and encourage flexible working hours where possible.
14. Take it step by step. Start with basic needs education. Then use the data from your internal surveys to find what makes the most sense.
To combat WFH burnout, reframe your company’s culture and policies, from remote working as an emergency mindset to remote working as the new normal. Constantly support your employees in this strategic shift.