A lot has been said about how remote work is the way forward. However, not enough has been discussed how its downsides derail productivity. For example, repetitive engagements like endless Zoom meetings result in mental exhaustion that can greatly affect any business.
Indeed, team members must remain in touch to keep a project going, avoid mistakes, and promptly resolve errors. Workers can easily start working in silos without a solid communication framework. This is why most companies mandate synchronous communication via a single channel like Zoom.
However, it becomes counterproductive when the constant conference calls begin to take their toll. Sitting in front of a computer’s webcam all day, talking to numerous people, can set your team back.
Zoom fatigue is the collective term used to describe the feeling of exhaustion that comes with all forms of constant video conferencing. So, if you feel drained after a marathon of meetings on Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or Skype, you have Zoom fatigue.
A theoretical argument on Zoom fatigue was published in the Technology, Mind, and Behavior journal. It stated that video chats exert higher cognitive loads, lead to highly intensive close-up eye contact, and reduce mobility. The study also pointed out that constantly seeing one’s self during video chats can accelerate fatigue.
Another study on Zoom exhaustion reported that negative attitudes toward virtual meetings are a factor in Zoom fatigue.
There are other ways to stay in touch without messing with your team’s mental health. We’ll cover Zoom alternatives that will help you achieve this.
This is one of the simplest communication channels—both formally and informally. There’s often no need to schedule a Zoom meeting for the fifth time in a day.
You can simply send a direct message, telling your colleague or staff to correct a document, provide progress reports, or send over an invoice.
If the update or instruction affects the entire team, you can post it on the appropriate Slack channel or Skype group chat. Prepare a broadcast and mark it as important.
DMs are effective video call alternatives since workers tend to respond within minutes.
Instant messaging tools can sometimes seem like an informal space, so make sure your chats come across as professional. This way, your workers are reminded that they’re still in an official environment.
It’s easy to overlook emails with the plethora of communication tools at our fingertips. However, they’re still relevant. They’re helpful when you want to make announcements or send project updates.
If the message you’re trying to pass across is straightforward, there’s no point in scheduling a meeting. Instead, send an easy-to-understand email stating all the relevant facts concisely.
You can also leave the door open for questions in case anyone needs specific clarifications.
Audio-only phone calls are the junior siblings of video chats. However, they can be a refreshing change from the constant Zoom meetings because they’re less stressful.
Workers can comfortably answer calls in domestic regalia and walk around the house or neighborhood while talking. This is opposed to being glued to a chair during on-camera meetings.
That doesn’t mean you should always call your team members or colleagues whenever you want to clarify something. Instead, make sure you schedule the calls and keep them as brief as possible. This way, employees can block a time for the meeting in their schedule.
Pre-recorded video messages are becoming a popular means of communication in virtual workplaces. From explainer videos to announcements and inductions, it’s now easy to share messages that employees can consume without stress.
There are numerous free tools like Soapbox, Vidyard, and Loom dedicated to this purpose. You can conveniently record videos of yourself and your screen and share them with team members.
These videos will have all the elements of a virtual meeting without the stress of being present at a specific time. In addition, employees can always rewind to pick up pieces they might have missed and can pause and watch later.
Communication is now seamless with collaboration tools like Microsoft Word and Docs. The team can edit the same document regardless of each member’s location. In addition, the comment feature allows you to communicate further.
You can leave comments on a paragraph, image, sentence, or word to bring the team’s attention to errors and changes. If you’re talking to a specific team member, you can mention them, and they’ll receive a notification via email.
Turn on the “Suggestion mode” feature in Google Docs to allow you and your team members to give appropriate feedback. If you are on Microsoft Word, then you’ll be using the Track Changes feature. Both tools are excellent for providing feedback on a colleague’s summary, project overview, or report memo.
Surveys are a great alternative to video conferences because they bring a different functionality.
They’ll allow your employees to provide more detailed and honest answers. This is helpful since time constraints might reduce how long each team member gets to air their view during a meeting. Also, new hires who might feel intimidated to speak during discussions will be free to pen down their thoughts and provide feedback.
You can use free tools like Survey Monkey, Google Forms, and Typeform to create effective surveys and analyze the results.
Surveys are best used to collect feedback on a proposed company or team initiative, employee engagement, or completed project.
Whether you’re using Asana, Trello, or a Google project management tool, you can send updates through the platform. You can also encourage everyone to report their progress on tasks.
Suppose you want to report a technical glitch in your ERP or HRM system or request an update. You don’t have to schedule a video conference on a Monday afternoon for that. However, your technical team or the co-workers responsible will certainly prefer that you create a ticket.
So, use their tracking and reporting platform to send a ticket, whether it’s JIRA, Trello, or GitHub.
This way, you’re not just saving them the stress of a needless meeting but also making sure they resolve the issue fast.
The trick is not sticking to a single communication channel. Sometimes, you don’t have to check in on your remote workers too often for product updates. A screen tracker can show you what they’re doing in real-time without giving up their privacy as it blurs out their screen.
Before sending out that meeting link, pause a while and ask yourself if you have to. If any of the options above will do the job, then, by all means, switch!