In the Covid-19 era of remote work, video chat platforms like Zoom have become the name of the game, both during and outside work hours. In particular, they’ve become the new venue for the frontier of virtual employee engagement. With new venues, however, come new challenges. In this case, many of us in the employee engagement space have encountered the phenomenon dubbed Zoom fatigue—the experience of being drained of energy after a video conference.
Being on video calls for hours on end, experiencing inevitable technical difficulties, and having to balance virtual work with home life is undoubtedly tiring, but the last thing you want is for your employees to be drained by team building activities meant to inspire.
Here at Visit.org, we’re committed to creating meaningful virtual employee engagement that contributes to social good. That means not letting Zoom fatigue get in the way. Here are a few ways you can prevent it as you engage your employees:
1. Foster Genuine Connection for Employee Engagement
When your employees feel disconnected from each other, Zoom activities can become tiring fast. Here are a few ways to genuinely connect with your team virtually.
Use icebreakers Many employees miss opportunities for casual, non-work-related conversation. You can encourage water-cooler talk with icebreakers or simple, low-stakes discussion questions to kick off events.
Ease into a fluid group discussion Since it can be intimidating to be the first to jump in—and difficult to know when to speak—on video, consider having the person leading the event go first. From then on, each person speaking can choose a teammate to speak after them. “Passing the ball” in this way helps everyone learn names and keeps the conversation flowing past potentially awkward pauses.
Remember basic public speaking techniques For speakers and presenters at virtual events, it may be helpful to adapt your presentation techniques to get through to your audience. Developing your public speaking skills may actually be more important in a virtual medium. Some strategies include making full use of gestures and body language, varying the tone and pacing of your voice, and avoiding the feeling of “reading slides” as much as possible.
Stick to small groups Still another way to cultivate real connection is by conducting events in small groups of up to around 20 people. Specifically, this approach is enhanced by activities that inherently encourage employees to open up to each other, such as this creative workshop hosted through Visit.org.
2. Consider Non-Zoom Mediums and Platforms
One of the most draining aspects of Zoom activities is the constant need to concentrate on video conversation. When your employees have to monitor themselves through the camera, meeting on Zoom can be uncomfortable if done for long periods of time. A simple strategy for tackling this issue is allowing for voice-only conversation where possible.
If voice-only conversation presents a problem for interactivity, you may think about adjusting the format of your event. Luckily, there are many creative ways to engage your employees without the pressures of video chat:
3. Take Intentional Breaks to Ward Off Zoom Fatigue
Including short breaks in your virtual event’s agenda is one of the easiest ways to prevent fatigue. As a rule of thumb, make an effort to build in a 5-minute break for every 30–45 minutes of your event. During these breaks, encourage employees to turn off their cameras and microphones and take time away from the screen.
You may also want to suggest self-care tips and exercises that will help your employees recharge before getting back into the event. Here are a couple suggestions:
When sharing these resources, consider creative ways to incorporate them into your events. For example, you might set a graphic with stretching instructions as the presenter’s Zoom profile picture or background so that employees can follow along when the presenter is not speaking. You can also center your employee engagement events around promoting self-care—an approach that Visit.org makes easy.
4. Respect Employees’ and Colleagues’ Boundaries
Every time your employees turn on the camera for a Zoom meeting, they are also welcoming you into their homes. As a result, the line between employees’ personal lives and work lives is more blurry than ever. This dynamic can sometimes be stressful for them to navigate, especially for employees with families. In recognition of that reality, consciously make your employee engagement events welcoming—and whenever possible, optional.
More broadly, foster a culture of understanding for everyone’s circumstances. In this more relaxed atmosphere, employees will feel more comfortable to attend virtual events and get-togethers. How?
Demonstrate empathy for instances when employees need to turn off their video or take a break.
Make it a norm to allow employees to take care of their home lives without bringing up the issue during an event.
5. Make Employee Engagement Activities Memorable and Hands-On
Lastly and most importantly, create virtual employee engagement that invites your employees to participate actively rather than watching or listening passively. Few programs are as powerful as unique experiences that get your employees moving or making at home. Through Visit.org, you can discover an industry-leading range of interactive activities that get your employees involved in innovative ways. Together, your employees can learn to make pizza from scratch, try out hip-hop dance, or pick up some drawing skills—just to name a few.
As with all Visit.org activities, 100% of proceeds will go directly to a nonprofit or social venture dedicated to making the world better. You can beat Zoom fatigue to engage your employees virtually—and make an impact along the way.
Interested in deepening your employee engagement remotely? Visit.org is at the forefront of virtual engagement and volunteering. Book your team experience by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Cover photo by Gabriel Benois