Collaboration in COVID-19’s Virtual World
Collaboration is an essential part of workplace culture. Working together increases and strengthens satisfaction, morale, and productivity in the office. In this new hybrid workplace, employees may be collaborating from various remote locations and the need for quality communication has never been more important.
As designers and employees alike, COVID-19 has forced us to rethink collaboration, what it means to work together, and how standards are implemented. Among others, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Hangout have become key platforms used in communicating while working remotely. However, as more events moved to virtual platforms, the concept of Zoom Fatigue arose. Zoom Fatigue is the phenomenon of heightened feelings of tiredness, anxiety, or worry, resulting from overusing virtual meeting platforms*. Virtual collaboration negates the non-verbal cues that employees tend to rely on during in-person meetings. Due to the absence of these non-verbal cues, virtual meeting participants are more likely to display heightened emotional reactions for their cameras. Social stigmas regarding eye contact, perceived focus, and conversational engagement result in the participants altering their typical mannerisms.
We encourage you and those around you to create healthy habits to combat Zoom fatigue! While multitasking may seem efficient while on video calls, it is actually counter-productive. Multitasking encourages short bursts of focus, as opposed to longer, more sustained engagement. Building these habits results in poor memory and decreased productivity.**
Exposure to multiple different backgrounds can also be a source of fatigue for many. The brain works harder to absorb and gauge individual settings, versus understanding the predictability of one communal setting – such as a conference room. Encourage employees and coworkers to use a plain background and when possible have everyone turn off their camera if they’re not the one speaking.
Build breaks into your schedule! Whether it’s implementing a 5-minute intersession during long meetings or leaving yourself some screen-free time between virtual meetings, prioritizing your wellbeing throughout the day will result in more profitable collaboration and constructive problem solving.
This is just one of the solutions for companies in our white paper “Adapting your Office in the Wake of COVID-19“, where we explore ways to create a safer space for employees upon their return to the office.
*Reinach Wolf, C. (2020, May 14). Virtual Platforms Are Helpful Tools but Can Add to Our Stress. Psychology Today.
**MacMillan, A. (2016, July 14). 12 Reasons to stop Multitasking Now!. Health.com.