Online Meeting Fatigue – It a real thing

We need to get back to normal

Maybe we need to have everyone make their broomsticks defy the laws of physics and close whatever otherworldly portals they opened. As millions of people stay indoors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we moved our way of connecting to a virtual world.

During this time of social distancing and self-isolating video conferencing has allowed our lives to adapt. Businesses are having employees check in remotely with their teams, schools have gone digital even our grandparents are participating online.

Who is with me when I say “I am so over this”?

Thank goodness for the people who can cut through the bullshit and find the ridiculousness during these stressful times. The COVID-19 pandemic has given many joke makers and meme creators a plethora of material to turn lemons into lemonade, and online meetings have provided their share of opportunities to provide us with the comedy relief we so desperately need right now. From people being stuck as images of potatoes to intentionally using green screens or dressing up as different characters, these virtual times are redefining business casual in hilarious ways.

As fun as it is to laugh about people who enter our homes accidentally by walking in the background of important meetings in their robes or our children asking for yet another snack, these virtual meetings are causing exhaustion. The fatigue you are feeling from a day of these types of meetings is real. If you are sick of your online workspace, you are not alone.

While technology has been very effective in keeping us connected, there is also a loss of connection, just ask any extrovert. My husband, for example, a business owner/salesperson, a person who is always on-the-go looking to meet or talk to anyone is now forced to stay stationary. While we continue to be on webinars or virtual meetings his superhuman ability to read the room is limited.

Needless to say, in-person all-day meetings are exhausting but there is always a few minutes in between each to stretch or walk to the next conference room, and you were in a physical place with other people where you can see facial expressions, collaborate ideas or feel the energy of the space and read body language. All of that gives us the insight needed on how to move forward. We simply don’t get that from video calls, especially if one of your colleagues or meeting attendees suddenly and “magically” morph themselves into a freaking half human half-cat creature.

With online meetings it is hard to know when to speak – this simple cue is easy enough to pick up in a physical meeting. Some attendees just aren’t forward enough to just “jump in”. In addition, And if we are trying to cram in as many people as possible simply for ease of it all we are taxing ourselves to the limit.

It’s Fight Or Flight

We are hyper-focused on not only navigating this new work environment but all the external things as well. Where are the kids? I hope they don’t interrupt me…again! How do I change the background? How in the world do I share my screen? Shit, what if I’m called on and my mic doesn’t work – I don’t know how to troubleshoot? Crap, my internet is not stable, what the hell do I do now? Why is my freaking cat screaming at me? Crap what did they say? Do I respond or simply smile and nod? What is she talking about? Can this person just shut-up? SERENITY NOW! Dear heavens is that what I really look like, when did I start looking like my mother?

We are physically and mentally over all of this

Our bodies are looking, no screaming, for relief. Not everyone has a home office that actually resembles the office environment. We are hunched over tables, curled up on couches, sitting on beds, porches/patios – heck, if you’re like me you’re in the bathroom hoping to get a moment of silence or a stronger internet connection. Our bodies are sore, eyes hurt and our vision is blurred. Our new work environment certainly does not look like anything we had before. We aren’t stretching our legs in between meetings and we certainly are not following any regular eating habits.

Our eyes are overworked and strained as a result of all the extra screen time we are enduring. Excessive overuse of our computers, smartphones, and tablets suppresses our naturally produced melatonin; this, in turn, affects our ability to fall asleep and enjoy a very peaceful night’s sleep. Instead, we are going to bed sore, restless and our brains still wired. There are some things we can do to relieve the strain, fatigue, and frustration of online life.

It’s important to remind yourself that you are living in your workspace, and that doesn’t give you a chance to unwind during a commute home. You can’t just leave work behind, because that counter where you are prepping dinner is where you had seven Zoom calls and will need to catch up on emails after the kids are in bed. Work is always present, and so is the stress. Stacia D. Kelly, Ph.D. suggests “create a few rituals to help you step away from the work. If you can, get out for a walk, do something creative (that doesn’t involve the computer screen), and remember to look up from your computer/device every 20 minutes or so.”

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