For those of us who are working from home, Zoom meeting fatigue is a new job challenge to contend with. More virtual meetings are being packed into busy schedules than ever. This leaves little time for necessary breaks, to process information, and to prepare for the next meeting – not to mention the strain of staring at a computer screen for hours on end. This “new way of working” is reportedly leading to anxiety, exhaustion, headaches, and upper body aches.
We at Do Tank are accustomed to meeting virtually, but even we are struggling to acclimate in a fully virtual world. So, in typical design consultant fashion, we decided to redesign our meetings. We generated dozens of ideas and adopted several to help curb some of the fatigue we are feeling.
We want share 10 of the ideas we brainstormed to change the structure of your virtual meetings so you can reduce your team’s Zoom exhaustion. You are not meant to do all of these things – just implement what makes sense for your team or organization.
- Perhaps most obviously: can your meeting be an email instead? Really think about this before scheduling a meeting. If you’re unsure, it can probably just work as an email.
- Change your usual meeting routine and include interactive elements. Running meetings the same way can become boring over time. Change things up by using a new platform, have someone different facilitate the meeting, or introduce an interactive element. We use MURAL, an remote whiteboard software, to make our meetings more engaging and ensure everyone has a voice.
- Do daily Scrum-style standup meetings. Many technology teams gather daily for short “standup” meetings. They check in with all team members to make sure everything is going smoothly, and problems are quickly addressed. Each member of the team typically shares an overview of what work they did the day before, what they plan to do today, and any support or information they need. This can preempt some short 1-on-1 meetings from being scheduled.
- Block off your schedule for times when you’re most productive. Chances are you know the hours when you’re most productive. For example, I can churn out work starting at 7am, but I turn into a pumpkin after 2pm. Reserve time in your calendar during your most productive hours so you can get work done – no meetings allowed!
- Schedule meetings to start and end on a 5. For example, if you would typically schedule a Zoom meeting from 1pm to 2pm, instead schedule it for 1:05pm to 1:55pm. This gives everyone a 10-minute buffer between meetings to go to the bathroom, grab coffee, or prepare for the next call.
- Intentionally schedule internal meetings for a set time frame. For example, only have internal meetings in the afternoon. This will leave mornings open for work and client calls.
- Turn off the camera and take a walking call together. It can be exhausting to look at a screen for long periods of time, not to mention that being stuck inside is rough. Whenever possible, go on a “walk and talk” instead of a Zoom meeting. Grab your mask and phone and chat about the matter at hand while walking in your respective locations.
- Schedule office hours when everyone’s virtual door is open. Working virtually has bulldozed my ability to ask quick, spontaneous questions, which was essential to the way I worked in an open office environment. Allow space for these brief exchanges by scheduling a regular time when everyone (metaphorically) has their office door open for quick calls.
- Host fun, social meetings with no productivity allowed. Any chit chat that we used to have before our internal in-person meetings has disappeared on our virtual calls. It has started to feel as if we are only allowed to have hyper-productive meetings, all the time. Schedule occasional meetings that are purely social, like a lunch group.
- When you must have a long meeting, schedule in regular breaks. We recommend including a 10-minute break at least every 90-minutes, as a bare minimum. Even though all of our work has gone digital, we are still human.
Having trouble motivating and aligning your team remotely? Check out Do Tank’s free online course Huddle, Focus & Act to gain the skills, tools, and knowledge to succeed as a team.