A year ago many of us never would have heard of these phrases, but now they’re all too common. With consistent and semi-constant online meetings for work, using live streaming platforms to catch up with friends, and even attending workout classes online, almost everything that we do has become virtual, and that can take a toll on our minds and bodies.
It’s important to figure out what exactly online program fatigue it is, why it happens, and of course: tips on the best ways to overcome the exhaustion many of us are starting to feel as we continue on our almost 9-month journey of remote working and online programs.
Live streaming platforms have no doubt been beneficial during this time. The advances we have in our technology are allowing many of us to work, socialize, and stay healthy despite lockdowns. In particular, live streaming technology allows individuals from all over the world to to observe and participate in events in other states, countries, and continents.
Though little can replace face-to-face interaction, live streaming has many attributes that makes it a great resource. It’s immediate: you’re viewing something as it occurs in real time. It’s sensory: you can hear and see what’s happening on the other side of your screen. And more than that, it can be interactive: you can respond to those sights and sounds! Live streaming is also accessible. Even those with physical or mental limitations can enjoy using the technology from wherever they are.
But, when we begin using any technology for almost every aspect of our lives, it can create new challenges. televëda is a live streaming platform, and we’ll admit that! Even when it’s an incredible solution, it’s also important to use it in a way that is healthy, helpful, and measured. Being aware of the potential pitfalls, and how to avoid them, is a huge step in the right direction.
Humans are inherently non-verbal communicators, which help us analyze and comprehend information in our daily interactions in addition to content. Video conferencing impacts non-verbal communication by providing too much of it--and not enough. We’re experiencing nonverbal overload: interactions like extended gazing and face-to-face close-ups that were previously for close relationships have become the norm of multiple meetings every day.
And, we’re experiencing a limitation to our nonverbal communication abilities: in group video conferences, video quality, screen size, and whether or not people are even on their screen severely limits our ability to read facial and body cues, gain shared knowledge, and have a collaborative conversation.
Microsoft’s Human Factors Labs’ remote working study used EEG devices to monitor the brain waves of people working remotely and in-person. This resulted in two two important discoveries. One: remote collaboration is more mentally taxing than in-person collaboration. Two: Video meetings are more stressful and tiring than non-meeting work (such as writing emails or using other communication platforms). Why? Let’s dive in.
Online events and programming is a different way of life. Even for those of us with remote working experience, coronavirus shutdowns have created new limitations that have impacted more of the way we interact with others.
You may have two, three, four, or more video chats a day, in between online chatting and phone calls. All of these may be on different platforms, using different technologies, and different best practices. We all have to not only learn the technology, but also various etiquettes.
This is one of the main contributors to online programming fatigue, or Zoom fatigue. Using a new form of communication while on the job can create added pressure to an otherwise normal meeting.
But, we’re not here to just talk about the issues. How can we beat online programming fatigue?
And not just mentally! Using screens constantly can be tough on your body. You’re sitting for most of the day, your eyes may be strained, and have you ever heard of Computer Vision Syndrome? The visual effects of computers and phones such as brightness, resolution, glare and quality can cause ocular sprain, irritation, redness, dryness, blurred vision and double vision.
Prevention is the most important strategy in managing computer vision syndrome, and modifying your working environment and educated eye care are crucial in managing computer vision syndrome. Both spending too much time in meetings and too much time using computer screens has been researched--so when your too many meetings are on your computer screen, you can imagine the result is two-fold.
Let’s beat it!
Another issue video conferencing contributes to is a change to your work-life balance. Working remotely can do that overall, but phone calls and emails are different than having work conferences in your kitchen surrounded by family. This loss of personal space is draining: when we’re at a meeting in the real world, we can often adjust our comfort levels, choose where in a room we want to sit, etc.
That autonomy is no longer during a video conference: you’re tied to your screen, and often to your space, especially if it’s shared with others working (or living) from home.
Another issue many of us experience is that fact that we’re always required to be “on,” literally and metaphorically. Many organizations require video conferencing cameras turned on during entire meetings, which means everyone is staring at one another during the entirety of meetings, another stark dissimilarity to in-person meetings.
It also may prevent individuals from looking away from the camera to take notes, rest one’s eyes, etc. Often, some of us may find ourselves nodding at regular intervals, just to make it clear we are paying attention.
So, what do we do?
Look, we’re not saying work meetings can’t be boring in person too. But when it comes to all-online, all the time, it can be tough to stay focused, efficient, and engaged. Boredom can also lead to a tendency to multi-task. Why not check your email or schedule a meeting during the call?
The issue here is that multi-tasking can lead to even more exhaustion: switching between several tasks uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, running down the same fuel that’s needed to focus on a task.
Here, engagement is key. This is one of the reasons televëda was started: engaging older adults and other vulnerable populations to keep them from isolation and loneliness. And this can apply to all online functions.
Keeping individuals engaged--both during calls and not--is key to productivity and happiness.
Try These Tips:
This isn’t to say that video conferencing is a bad tool. In fact, live streaming technologies have made so much more possible than one could have imagined before coronavirus shutdowns. And with the continued growth of remote work, they’re here to stay. Like all technologies, as long as individuals stay informed on how to manage and moderate their usage, it’s possible to reap the benefits, without the potential issues.
Engagement is so important to online programming: the more engaged users you have at your events, meetings, classes, etc. the more successful and appreciated they’ll be.
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