With millions working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have needed to provide solutions that allow their employees to communicate and collaborate remotely. 

Not surprisingly, video conferencing took the spotlight. During one week in March 2020, enterprise-focused mobile apps were downloaded 62 million times. That was 90 percent more than the weekly average number of downloads in 2019.

The professional world has become much more acquainted with video conferencing, and the face-to-face interaction it offers can be significant. But sitting in front of a camera all day, every day isn’t without drawbacks.

Video fatigue is real

Video meetings, unlike face-to-face interactions, require a constant gaze at the camera. On video, it takes more effort for the brain to process nonverbal cues such as body language, fidgeting, and facial expressions. You see your own face looking back at you and might be uncomfortable with how you look. Maybe you worry about your child running into the room. You can’t even look out the window for a visual break. It tires out the brain.

Some employees have several meetings a day, five days a week. It’s no wonder burnout is on the rise for remote employees. A July 2020 survey by Monster found that 69% of remote employees experienced burnout symptoms. That was up 20 percent from two months before.

Video conferencing is on the rise

Remote work won’t end anytime soon. Seventy-four percent of CFOs plan to let some of their previously on-site employees work permanently from home. More than half of executives surveyed say they will allow employees to work remotely at least one day a week. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic, online collaboration will continue to rise. 

Reducing employee burnout should be a top priority, and decreasing video fatigue is one way to address it. 

1. Reduce unnecessary meetings

Who hasn’t sat in a meeting that could’ve been an email? Many meetings can, and should, be eliminated. Reducing the number of unnecessary meetings allow employees to allocate their work time better. It also lessens the amount of time they spend on camera, which helps cut down on video fatigue.

2. Don’t require cameras to be on

Many meetings, especially larger ones like town halls or announcements, don’t need cameras. In these cases, employees can decide whether video should be on or off. 

There are other ways to make sure people are participating in a meeting and to gather feedback. Call on someone occasionally to answer a question in their area. Ask people to post comments, questions, or answers in chat. 

3. Use alternate forms of communication

Don’t schedule a video call when a team message sent directly to your colleague or team would do. You can make a phone call or contact colleagues on microsites, online bulletin boards, and employee portals. Video conferencing is a great tool, but it’s not your only tool. Save it for when it’s the best choice.

4. Mandate written agendas

Make sure there’s a clearly articulated reason for the meeting and a detailed agenda of precisely what you will cover. That keeps a meeting focused, efficient, and productive. As soon as you get through each agenda item, end the meeting. Shorter, more efficient meetings can reduce both video fatigue and employee burnout.

5. Consider dedicating one day free of meetings

Pick one day of the week and declare it a no-meetings day. Tell your team to let people know they aren’t available on that day and stick to it. When your employees know that every Thursday, for instance, they can focus on work without interruptions, it can be a game-changer.

Take a unified approach to video fatigue

Addressing video fatigue needs to come from leadership, and it’s smart to nip the problem in the bud before it affects everyone in the organization. When managers and other leaders reduce the number of video calls, they’ll find that employees are more engaged, productive, and successful in their everyday work.

At the same time, combating video fatigue starts with having the right tools in place. It’s easy for calendars to overpopulate with video meetings when that’s the primary mode of collaboration. But teamwork doesn’t always need camera-based meetings all the time. 

Tools like unified communications allow teams to choose how they communicate and collaborate. With team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud telephony in a single platform, a video call can easily be just a regular phone call instead. Similarly, meetings that are redundant can simply be communicated through a team messaging group instead.

With all of the essentials under one roof, teams have everything they need to collaborate at their own pace and avoid burning out at the wheel.