During COVID-19, many businesses made the switch from in-person to remote work. While this has worked out well for some, others struggle with “Zoom” or online fatigue. If you or your employees are experiencing this burnout, read 8 Figure Firm’s blog to learn more.
What is Online Fatigue?
Online fatigue can be defined as extreme exhaustion due to the overuse of technology, mainly while working from home. Symptoms can include stress, tiredness, anxiety, lack of concentration, irritation, and burnout.
Part of what causes online fatigue is that your brain has to work harder to function and the expectation that you have to be available at all times. It’s difficult because you can’t just avoid bringing your work home – your work is at home.
This type of fatigue has become increasingly common, from students to retail workers to hospital staff, and yes, even lawyers. Even if you go into the office on occasion, you and your employees are likely still suffering from online fatigue – especially if your firm is remote.
3 Ways to Overcome Online Fatigue
There are a few different ways to soothe symptoms of online fatigue.
Create a Schedule
Feeling constantly “on” has adverse effects on our mental and physical health. Try to create a schedule that works for you and set boundaries accordingly to combat this. Creating a plan and setting boundaries will give you more control while working from home.
You could hold all of your Zoom meetings at the beginning of the week or spread them out over several days. You could also set boundaries and make yourself unavailable for a certain amount of time during the day.
Turn Your Camera Off
Humans are excellent at pattern recognition, especially when it comes to other people. We are talented in recognizing nonverbal cues, but those cues don’t have the same meanings in the digital world. Lacking in-person conversation subconsciously makes our brains work harder.
To overcome this obstacle during long Zoom meetings, you can try turning your camera off and taking an “audio” break. Turning your camera off gives you a break from constantly seeing yourself. Turn yourself away from the camera to give your brain a break from trying to understand those meaningless cues.
Prioritize Your Meetings
Zoom, Skype, Slack, and other video conferencing platforms have given us a great way to stay in contact with our jobs and loved ones. However, it seems to make us feel that we have to be available for any meeting throughout the day.
That stress contributes to online fatigue, so to mitigate this, try to prioritize what needs to be a meeting and what should be an email. Important meetings should have a clear agenda and length so that you aren’t getting bogged down in the number of meetings.
How to Help Your Employees
As the leader of your firm, you have a responsibility to help your team members combat online fatigue.
Keep it Light
As leaders, we have to try and alleviate some of the distress that comes with remote work, and one easy solution is to keep a light and upbeat atmosphere. Your employees will appreciate the change of pace, and you will probably get some enjoyment too.
If you’re videoconferencing, allow your staff to show their pets! Their pets may already be trying to get attention, and allowing that space will relieve some of the tension people have to be professional. It may also add some excitement to long meetings.
You could also encourage employee interaction during meetings. Checking in verbally with your staff will show that you care, and it gives them a chance to spend time talking like they would in an office setting. More lighthearted conversation can only increase your team’s morale.
Set a Schedule
Since we’ve already discussed setting a boundary for yourself, try to keep a schedule for your staff. We all need structure and routine, and without physically going to the office, some people find that they lack that schedule. You can set it for your staff.
Plan your meetings, and give them a definite start and end time. You can also provide clear, reasonable deadlines for any tasks or projects staff may have. You don’t have to plan their whole day for them, but you can give them a routine to stick to.
Invest in Mental Health
We’ve already discussed the importance of investing in your employees’ professional development, but it’s vital to also invest in their mental health. 11% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depression in 2018 and 2019, which jumped to 41% in 2021.
To help your employees, try fostering a sense of community. We don’t have to pretend that the world is perfect, and it may be helpful for you to share your struggles. You could also update insurance plans to include mental health services and provide apps and subscriptions for meditation, mindfulness, and exercise.
Speak to the Experts
Online fatigue is real, and it’s a complex thing to overcome. If you need support in helping your staff combat it, or a community of law firm leaders to commiserate with, contact us here at 8 Figure Firm today.