Back to work, back to the daily rush. Shall we all have Zoom-free Fridays? Video calls can be uniquely exhausting compared to in-person conversations, according to researchers from Stanford, and most office workers say that as the remote work revolution drags on, they are constantly wrestling with how best to combat fatigue.
I talk about meetings a lot in Reclaim your Time Off, because I believe the whole meeting culture could see a big re-haul.
Zoom-free Fridays are an idea originating from Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser’s plan to provide the bank’s staff a weekly respite from video calls.
This spawned a debate about the mental toll of the pandemic workday on office workers. Would a ‘meeting free’ day be good for us and our mental wellbeing? I believe so. Making space for creativity and actual rest means being able to create the right environment around us, one that is not constantly interrupted by external stimuli.
How to create a Zoom-free schedule
The first thing you can do is look at your days and set out how many meetings you can really have every day. Once you do that, make sure that you allocate a specific time throughout the day that will be best for you to have those meetings.
Do you prefer having a chat in the afternoon, or in the morning? Ensure that those meetings, especially the recurring ones, don’t fall during your most productive time today.
Make sure that you have some buffer time in between each meeting to create a clear meeting agenda. Before your conversation, ask the person you’re talking to. If there’s anything they want to discuss, or you should prepare.
This can reduce the meeting time by up to 50% by simply doing that. You can also make sure that you cover precisely what needs to be talked about and nothing more. It will keep you more focused, more concentrated, and finally, it will make sure that your meeting doesn’t run over.
Last but not least, ask yourself a straightforward question. Could you take this meeting and turn it into a phone call?
I know, groundbreaking. There is a lot to be said about the power of just having a phone call. Did you know that one of the biggest problems with Zoom meetings is that looking at our faces can be incredibly stressful?
Indeed, because we have so much focus that we need to put on and we’re not allowed to take breaks throughout the meeting, we need to constantly be putting our attention directly on the screen, which can also affect our high sights and overall our brains.
How to optimise your remote working space
Whether you have embraced the remote worker life or adopting a ‘flexible working’ approach, finding ways to create your own safe space to work from at home can become a true game-changer.
Things have changed drastically recently. 55% of US workers want a home and office working mixture. Employers expect the proportion of regular home workers to double in the UK from 18% pre-pandemic to 37% post-pandemic. In 10 years, employment expert Alicia Tung has predicted, China will be facing a 60/40 split of onsite/remote work.
When it comes to working from home, I recommend a few tools to improve your experience.
- Get a good set of noise-cancelling headphones with a microphone or a headset. It will help you focus on the task at hand when the outside environment is too distracting.
- A timer. It helps me keeping track of my working hours and encourages me to take plenty of breaks.
- A separate keyboard is another handy tool that has helped me with my posture in the past.
- Water jugs of any kind. Keeping hydrated should not be a luxury.
- Keep a tidy workspace. Whether it’s your dinner table or desk, less is more. A cluttered desk leads to a cluttered mind.
- Coffivity is one of the best music companions when working from home.
Why setting boundaries matters
Finding a way to create a physical separation from work and personal life is vital, as you don’t want to get frustrated by not focusing on the computer screen for a few minutes because toys fly over your head.
A global study of 12,000 employees showed that 89% of those aged 22 to 25 and 83% of those aged 26 had more stress and anxiety this year than before. As work issues keep spilling over personal life due to a lack of boundaries, people struggle to find balance.
There are certain limitations, costs and demands regarding setting up a physical office space to be prepared to accommodate. However, this is where creativity can go a long way.
You have to figure out the limitations of the room before you can set it up the way you’d like it. Is it a lack of boundaries? Space? Comfortable seat? What is the one thing you can do to make your home office more accommodating? There are various ways to create better boundaries, including building a temporary wall to signal their family they are “at work”, just like a pillow fort, but for adults.
Since remote working has become something that we’re all trying to approach, we find a way to create that balance between ourselves and make sure that we don’t get sucked into Zoom fatigue and reclaim time back from meetings.
Looking for ways to refresh your office home space? Find out more here.