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Top tips for reducing video call burnout in the age of coronavirus

The rise of video calls as the go-to meeting strategy for remote teams is draining the energy of employees everywhere — but there are ways to help workers manage the strain.

That’s according to corporate video software publisher Vyond, which has put together some top tips that can really help, especially when many offices might not return to normal until some time in 2021.

“Now we’re having even more meetings and back-to-back video calls have replaced our daily in-person interactions. This is all on top of extra home responsibilities and increased stress,” the company points out. “Video calls are important and have their place, but they also force us to focus more on conversations in order to absorb information.”

One perhaps surprising suggestion is to avoid multi-tasking. Instead of trying to get everything done while participating in a scheduled meet-up, genuinely stay present on a call.

“Don’t get distracted by IM or emails. Staying present will limit the drain on energy and concentration used during the call,” explains Vyond.

“Multi-tasking can cost you as much as 40% of your productive time, according to Rubinstein, Meyer and Evans in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, in 2001.”

In addition, team members should be encouraged to take breaks during long calls. Consider turning off the webcams now and then to give people’s eyes a rest from engaging with everyone’s facial expressions. Another idea is to have the meeting while out on a walk, using the smartphone instead of your usual computer.

“Walking meetings are known to improve creativity and help reduce stress,” notes Vyond.

In a thought leadership piece for TrainingIndustry.com, Vyond head of marketing Stacy Adams writes that Vyond’s own research in February with True Global Intelligence found that 26% of professionals feel that the meetings they have are unproductive or even unnecessary. In addition, 48% of managers felt there were too many meetings in any given week.

“There’s also the pressure many employees put on themselves to overperform, especially in the midst of potential furloughs and layoffs. The combination of this external and internal pressure can quickly lead to employee burnout,” Adams writes.

Two business school researchers, Libby Sander and Oliver Bauman from Australia’s Bond University, have also been publishing articles on the growth in conferencing from a cognitive and mental health standpoint. People typically process a lot of information unconsciously about how workmates are feeling, and take in assorted social cues, they agree.

“Meetings in person are not only about the exchange of knowledge; they are also important rituals in the office. Rituals provide comfort, put us at ease, and are essential in building and maintaining rapport,” the pair write on Ideas.Ted.com.

“Meeting online increases our cognitive load, because several of its features take up a lot of conscious capacity. We feel anxious about our remote workspace and events that might make us look bad to our colleagues.”

Positives include that certain social cues — such as a person’s height — are typically less apparent in online or even video meetings, which means people’s arguments might be judged more fairly than in situations where physical cues can indicate social dominance, the researchers suggest.

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