Nearly a year has passed since the industry largely transitioned to a virtual workforce due to COVID-19. While organizations likely used Zoom, GoToMeeting or other web conferencing tools prior to the pandemic, a much greater emphasis was put on them to connect in the new virtual world.

Executive Summary

Virtual workplaces aren't going anywhere any time soon, which means leaders need to dig deeper to keep their workforce engaged, writes Laura Packard, a marketing VP for insurance branding firm Aartrijk. Not only has Zoom fatigue set in for many associates, but a study conducted just one month after much of the U.S. went into lockdown found that almost half of U.S. employees were burnt out, with one-quarter pointing to the impact of the pandemic, she notes. Here, she presents some virtual meeting best practices to deal with Zoom fatigue and advises leaders to assist their teams by leading with empathy and recognizing that their employees' deep human needs have likely drastically changed in the past year. Providing feedback and stressing the need for time off are two ways that leaders can respond, she writes.

Initially, there was enthusiasm surrounding these tools, both in professional and personal lives. Zoom happy hours and birthday parties were new and exciting ways to keep contact with co-workers and loved ones. Web conferencing became such a huge priority that Zoom entered our lexicon as a verb: “Let’s zoom later.”

As we enter the second year leaning largely on virtual connection to replace in-person connection, leaders need to dig deeper to ensure the workforce stays engaged. As furiously as Zoom meetings became the way of life, Zoom fatigue crept quietly but quickly, behind. While this concept may be surprising to read, especially in organizations that are used to numerous meetings, consider what else may have been going on in employees’ teleconferencing lives:

If they have children, they possibly had to assist with their schooling going virtual—not an easy task, most notably for those with elementary age children. Additionally, competitions for home office space between children or other family members may have been occurring. Anyone who participated in volunteer activities and even church and worship services saw these go virtual. Tech-savvy individuals may have been faced with the important, yet possibly frustrating, task of helping less tech-savvy friends and family members get equipped to connect virtually.

So, while the number of meetings at your firm may not have increased dramatically, your employees’ lives and the demands on their virtual time most certainly have.

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