30 May 2020

It’s finally happened, in a few short months, death by ZOOM is a thing…

OK, it’s happened. The joy and relief that life can go on when we are all working in a virtual location has been replaced with ‘Death by ZOOM’, and in many instances it’s a very slow and very painful death. ZOOM fatigue is here, it’s very real and many of us are dealing with full days of ZOOM meetings, day after day after day. Something has to give.

ZOOM is a great tool, but like most tools, it can easily be used the wrong way. Hit yourself in the head with a hammer and it soon becomes clear that’s not what it was designed for. And right now our typical answer to most problems is “let’s jump on a ZOOM call”. This was perfect a few weeks back but perhaps it shouldn’t be our first thought now.

I wonder what the research will tell us about our productivity in this new ZOOM world? Of course we have to communicate as part of our work, in various ways and in various amounts, but perhaps now we can rethink how we use ZOOM a little more effectively. Perhaps we need to undo a few bad habits that have snuck into the ZOOMosphere? Here are a few tips that might help –

1. Ask if the ZOOM meeting is even necessary or is it just a habit?

How many meetings are happening out of habit simply because it started as a good idea and now it has just become a colossal waste of time? No one has actually made the call to put the meeting out of its misery. Look at every meeting you are doing on ZOOM and ask the hard question – is this meeting even necessary? Start to find ways to have fewer meetings and your brain will appreciate you for it, and you can actually get some work done.

2. Make it a goal to master the 15 minute ZOOM call.

Why take 30 minutes to say it if you can say the same thing in 15 minutes? I think this is the perfect time to set the challenge to master the short ZOOM call. Make our meeting goal crystal clear, commit to achieving it in a few short minutes and then get the hell on with our work as soon as possible. We don’t need to do the small talk, compare cats for the twentieth time, or enter into a long drawn out discussion about COVID19 that we already dissected in great detail over the past few months. Become the best team on the planet when it comes to 15 minute or even 5 minute ZOOM calls. PowerZOOM’s let’s call them.

3. Just because the call is booked for an hour doesn’t mean it needs to last for an hour.

One thing I’m getting much better at is calling an end to a ZOOM call. If we’ve done what we need to get done and we still have 15 minutes on the clock, put the meeting out of its misery once and for all. Don’t linger and let it drag on when there is no purpose. Sometimes though we’ve developed the habit of filling the hour because we’ve got the ZOOM room booked. Let is go.

4. Have ZOOM free days.

This has been such a life saver for me – I have ZOOM free days – at least once or twice a week. It is such a great feeling to get a pile of deep work done, where I can think, focus and concentrate and actually get some meaningful work done. Now don’t get me wrong, the work I do on ZOOM is important and meaningful, but I need a break. And I think we are all getting closer to this point. Even if you can’t quite manage a ZOOM free day, try and have ZOOM free mornings or afternoons. It makes a huge difference.

5. Email hasn’t been replaced by ZOOM.

I’ve had a lot of people say to me that it feels like people have forgotten how to use email. Everything has to get said on a ZOOM call, when often it could be done so much faster and easier with an email. Of course this isn’t always the case and perhaps there is a little extra need for human connection, even down the barrel of a ZOOM call, but let’s be kind to each other and if we can email as opposed to ZOOMing, let’s do it.

6. Don’t be a lazy ZOOM giver or receiver.

I’m not sure what’s harder at times – conducting a ZOOM meeting with little to no input from those on the other end, or being on the other end and being bored senseless by whoever is putting on the meeting? Regardless, we all play a role in providing energy on a ZOOM call – don’t be a lazy giver or receiver. As the day goes on, and the ZOOM calls go on, the ZOOM slump sets in. This is where we get lower and lower in our chairs, our energy levels drop and we slowly become comatose with our eyes open. Every ZOOM call blurs into one. We have to energise ourselves – stand up, do a walking call (OK, use some common sense), do it outside, whatever you can to have more energy and to give more energy. Don’t be a lazy ZOOM giver or a lazy ZOOM receiver.

7. Set better rules for ZOOM calls.

We all know that one person who seems humanly incapable of turning up to a ZOOM call on time. This is the same irritating person who can never turn up to a real life meeting on time. They swan in long after everyone else, because they are either too arrogant to care about anyone else or two disorganised to manage their life to actually get anywhere on time. I love that their lateness has carried into the ZOOM world. These people cost an organisation a lot of money with wasted time and they cause frustration and irritation. Make the rules very clear, call them out – and a new form of “that’s not OK” has to be applied to ZOOM calls. The worst offenders – bosses and managers. So they are setting excellent examples for their teams to follow.

As we slowly start making our way back to our normal workplaces, don’t think that this signals the end of ZOOM. Far from it, for many people home is the new workplace for the foreseeable future, for many us it has been for years. Now that people are used to using ZOOM, they are more likely to abuse it and all of the grief that we may be experiencing will continue unless we stop and take stock about how to use this technology much better and certainly much more productively.

‘Death by ZOOM’ is the end result of ‘ZOOM fatigue’. Let’s put an end to both of them.

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