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Woman on a online work meeting.There’s a high chance you have experienced it by now. The loss of concentration, the tired eyes, the longing to be anywhere other than here – staring at a glaring screen. If you haven’t been visited by the big, bad productivity thief I’ve dubbed video-conferencing fatigue, then it is likely this unwelcome guest is imminently approaching as we continue to work remotely.

Video-conferencing can be tiring work. Here are 5 useful tips to help you stay motivated and avoid video-conferencing burnout whilst you’re working from home.

1.      Avoid back-to-back meetings

This isn’t always as easy as it sounds. We have all been in meetings that have overrun their time slot and it can be quite uncomfortable having to interrupt someone to let them know you need to join another call.

To combat this, schedule in 20/50 minute meetings instead of the standard 30/60 minutes. Not only do you get 10 minutes back between meetings to focus on the tasks you need to get done, but it will give you time to stretch your legs, rest your eyes and grab a drink too.

In meetings, be clear and structured on what you want to get out of it beforehand. Think of three key takeaways and actions. This way, you can determine whether a meeting is necessary, can be shortened (win) or perhaps removed altogether if you could collaborate over a Teams chat instead. (bigger win).

2.      Reduce on-screen stimuli

Gif showing background blur is Teams meetingsRather amusingly, research has proven that when we are on video, we tend to spend most of the time gazing at our own faces (guilty as charged)! Focus on your colleagues, or the person talking instead of admiring yourself.

It can be tempting to strain to see what is hiding behind our co-workers in their different rooms. Remind yourself and others to reduce background distractions. You can easily do this by using background blur or a plain backdrop on Teams. Not only does this reduce onscreen distractions, but it is also more accessible to those who may have hearing impairments and may need to lip read.


3.      Take a break

Male office worker sitting on couch in modern workplace, smiling and looking to his right while holding coffee cup.We only have finite energy, and sometimes we need to reinvigorate our minds. Get up, do some stretches, go for a walk, go get that delicious cookie that you’ve been thinking about, have a drink – the list of things you can do is endless but extremely important. Whether you take a full hour for lunch or shorter intermittent breaks throughout the day, make sure to have some downtime away from your screen.

Studies have shown that most of us can only concentrate for less than an hour. One even said only 14 minutes!

Also, fresh air is good for your mental health. Fresh air increases oxygen in our bodies alongside boosting serotonin: a mood-enhancing hormone that keeps us happy.

For us to be at our most productive, it’s beneficial to take a break. So yes, get up and go treat yourself – have that cookie (I know that’s what I’m going to do on my break).

4.      You don’t always have to turn on video

Video calls are a great way to communicate when you’re working remotely as so much of communication is non-verbal. But don’t feel the pressure to always turn them on. Staring at the screen and watching everyone’s individual reactions can sap the energy out of you.

If you are present in an hour-long meeting, it should be acceptable to turn off your camera for parts of the call, especially if you’re not speaking, so you can give your eyes a rest.

Video-conferencing can also feel extremely intimate. If you’re meeting with someone outside your organisation that you don’t know very well, it’s ok to just use audio.

The most important thing with meetings is to ensure everyone can confidently and comfortably take part. This may mean using video, blurring your background, including real-time closed captioning, or not turning on video at all.

5.      Switch to email or phone/audio calls

Woman with grey short hair, red shirt, and grey cardigan sitting in armchair holding phone.Have a quick look over your calendar and see if there are any Teams meetings that you could have over the phone or email instead. If 4:40pm rolls around and you are feeling that impending video-conferencing fatigue, see if the person would mind switching your meeting to a phone/audio call. Same with those ‘quick’ check-ins – see if they can be chats or emails instead.

You could suggest rescheduling the conversation to a later time too which can give you both a chance to recharge and revisit the conversation when you will be able to give it the full attention it deserves. Most of us are facing the same challenges so it’s likely the other person will be relieved by the switch, too.

Avoiding fatigue

So, there it is. My top tips to reduce that end-of-the-day slump after a day jam-packed with video conferences.

We know how encouraging a friendly face during a meeting is, and how it helps provide extra connection to our peers. However, it’s draining to be stuck in one video meeting after another, so try out some of these hacks to make your day easier and more productive.

Find out more

Read more: 5 tips to keep your remote team engaged and motivated

Get support: Maintain a connected remote working experience

Download the eBook: How to run effective remote meetings with Teams

Join the webinar: Run effective meetings in Teams

Tools to empower your development teams

Watch the on-demand session: Top ten tips for remote working from the Teams team 

About the author

Laura MacLean, smiling for the cameraLaura is a Management with Marketing student from Scotland. She is interning at Microsoft in the One Commercial Partner business. Her role as a Partner Marketing Advisor in the Partner Business and Development team involves helping Microsoft partners to successfully drive their Go-To-Market Campaigns. Outside of work, her biggest passion (some may say kryptonite) is fashion! She loves how fashion enables you to express yourself with the colours, shapes, textures, and patterns of clothes. Her bank balance, however, isn’t so keen on the insatiable clothing addiction…

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