As Richard discussed in his blog ‘Prevention or Cure, what is your wellbeing strategy’ the increased stresses arising from Covid means some companies and organisations have put various measures in place to help their employees tackle the inevitable reductions in wellbeing. But is there a new ‘stressor’ on the rise that companies may have overlooked?
According to a recent work life balance article published by the BBC, many are finding the on set of video conference calls since the pandemic hit exhausting. This was also found by researchers at Stanford who say that video calls can be more exhausting when compared to in person meetings. While workplace burnout in itself is not a new phenomenon, this particular stressor is on the increase since the onset of Covid-19. The term ‘Zoom Fatigue’ (or ‘Zoom Burnout’) is now being used to describe the tiredness, stress, or burnout associated with overusing these virtual platforms for communication.
Companies around the world regularly acknowledge the physical implications of sitting in front of a screen all day – but have they considered how it might affect employee wellbeing?
Daron Robertson, CEO of BroadPath believes that video conferencing fails to accurately recreate the in-person experience. He suggests that without real time eye contact, and other general body language cues people are used to, the brain must work harder to interpret conversations and messages. Then, there are the ‘unseen’ pressures such as wondering whether people are listening or working on mails, not to mention the increased awareness people have around ‘being watched’. A recent Forbes publication also includes ‘presentism’ in its list of ‘screen time’ challenges explaining that very often people feel the need to turn their video on to avoid appearing non-compliant or looking like they are hiding something.
While employees across companies are being impacted, HBR believes that those with managerial responsibilities are particularly feeling the pain. They noted that many managers have swapped their entire commute time (and then some) for work and conference calls. Fortune.com further suggest that the simple task of opening work calendars in the morning can drive frustration, with people often only having minutes between scheduled virtual calls to get ‘actual work’ done. They feel especially aggrieved when they consider only a handful of these meetings to be a valuable use of their time.