6 ways to conquer video conference fatigue and stay on task

November 22, 2021 Scott Yelton 3 min
Decreased energy and focus resulting from video conference overload can be a challenge for distributed teams and individuals working from home. Here are six tips to help remote employees stay engaged, collaborative and productive on video calls.

woman in a remote meeting looking at computer screen

Working in front of a screen all day takes a toll on employees’ energy levels and focus—and with the rise in remote work, now meetings take place on-screen, too. Video fatigue is real, and can be a real challenge for remote employees to overcome. Here are six ways to stay engaged and productive while using unified communications solutions for video calls.

  1. Resist the urge to multi-task. It’s tempting to catch up on email, chat with coworkers about projects or try to finish other tasks while listening in on a meeting. Problem is, multi-tasking shifts your focus from your present meeting, limiting your ability to contribute and add value.
    Pro tip: Minimize all other tabs on your computer screens and put your phone away (and on mute!) whenever you’re in a meeting.

  2. Create a single point of focus. Video meetings cue our instincts to feel “on” for the camera; that means smiling, being gregarious and exaggerating non-verbal cues. (Ever wave at the end of a video call? Me too.)
    Pro tip:
    Have the host share their screen to help focus on the intent of the call. Other video conferencing tools such as whiteboarding, polling and hand raising can also help keep audiences engaged.

  3. Reduce visual distractions. Our brains naturally process everything within eyesight, including the backgrounds of all people in the meeting. Whether you realize it or not, you’re making mental notes like what books you see on a bookshelf, what plant you can see in the corner, and why there’s a samurai sword hanging behind your favorite co-worker.
    Pro tip: Clear out your background views to reduce subconscious visual distractions—and encourage others to do the same—by using a virtual background, putting up a serene poster or blanket backdrop, or adjusting the camera view to focus on the meeting participant.

  4. Eliminate background noise. From other family members working to barking pets and curious children, sometimes working from home is just noisy. Email and chat pings can also be major distractions to others when on a video call.
    Pro tip: Ask everyone to mute when they are not speaking—and follow suit.

  5. Use video calls strategically. In person, we might whisper to colleagues, take notes and use peripheral vision to take little mental breaks. On a video call, the primary way we show we’re paying attention is by looking at the camera, leaving little time for mental time-outs.
    Pro tip: Determine when video calls are required (for example, customer calls, briefings or team meetings) and employ email, chat or phone for more task-oriented or less time-sensitive deliverables.

  6. Build in some cushion. Video calls (especially when they’re back-to-back or take up most of the day) can zap your energy, limit your focus and leave you physically sore.
    Pro tip:
    If you’re the organizer, build in a 10-minute buffer between calls and/or designate certain days for video calls. Be sure to take frequent breaks, stretch and move.

Keep things in perspective

At the end of the day, be gentle with yourself. Check out my colleague’s post for some great tips on remote wellness and how to make the most of working from home. And remember to take work stress in stride and allow yourself the downtime you need to stay happy and healthy.

Key Takeaway
As the remote workforce becomes more prevalent than in-office teams, challenges like video conference fatigue are newfound hurdles organizations should take seriously.

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