Got the Zoom blues?

If you’ve got the Zoom blues you join hundreds of thousands feeling exactly the same way. It’s been 8 months, we are human, and we need a conversation that doesn’t involve talking at a screen. On top of that mental exhaustion is real. Whether the pandemic has hit your business hard, turned your home life upside down or meant a shift in priorities. 2020 has taken its toll with its massive change, uncertainty and concerns for our finances and welfare. No surprise then that the Zoom boom has gone bust.

When Zoom creates gloom

Zoom has opened up so many opportunities, but it also has clear limitations. When we are in the same room with someone, communication is better and generally more productive. We pick up head to toe body language, wider non-verbal cues, use all five senses and absorb information from the surrounding environment. We also communicate more naturally, with less restrictions and less self-consciousness. Conversation ebbs and flows with ease and we interact in a way that is two-way and human.

On Zoom we miss so much in terms of both verbal and non-verbal communication and our behaviours can start to change. Whether talking one on one, or in groups, problems begin to arise and all of this can lead to people switching off and feeling the Zoom blues
How to tackle common problems

  • Make people feel involved
  • Team meetings on Zoom are not ideal and it can be difficult to manage a range of personalities. It is hard to pick up when it is your natural turn to speak, when someone else has finished, and dodgy internet connections throw another dimension into the mix.

    If you are a team leader it is even more important to help people feel more present on Zoom. Little things like saying hello to each person at the start of the meeting is important. As is addressing everyone by name and checking with people individually to see if they would like to make a contribution. You can also keep engaged by rotating the chair of the meeting and inviting people to shape the agenda. You might also want to consider a ‘freestyle’ section of the meeting when people can talk about things they are proud of, and have achieved or maybe things they have also found difficult.

  • Mix up communication channels
  • Over reliance on Zoom can drain both time and creativity and may not be the right solution to every communication need. It is important to consider different methods of communication, how they add value, and their limitations. When we are not together in the office, relationships can start to break down if we are not careful. Actions and behaviours can be misinterpreted and emails can lead to reactions, rather than a productive conversation.
    Alongside Zoom team meetings, offer some other opportunities for you and your staff to communicate and get together. Local staff could do walk and talk meetings for example. If you are a manager you could also ringfence some time in your diary for ‘open door’ when staff can ring you and talk without a prebooked appointment. Making phone calls can be a welcome break from the screen and get you up and moving which energises different areas of the brain.

  • Be mindful of mental health
  • In these challenging times, it is really important to look out for each other and check that staff aren’t working longer hours than normal and blurring home/work boundaries. People can sometimes mask and it is much harder to pick up if someone is not feeling good on Zoom.
    Teaming up smaller groups to check in on each other regularly can be really beneficial for more informal interaction and can flag up when someone is struggling with their mental health. People living alone for might also benefit from shared lunches or tea breaks and generally be in need of more social contact than others.

  • Promote creativity, off and online
  • Giving staff time for creativity and to get away from the screen is important. Even people that don’t consider themselves to be naturally creative, can benefit from new and broader stimulation which can be lacking when working from home.

    There are lots of companies offering creative and light hearted virtual activities for teams to enjoy online. But there are other ways to get creative away from the computer.

    You could consider getting staff involved in drawing or painting projects. Getting outside to capture photographs around set themes can also encourage people to think in a different way. You can also bring people together to share their findings and work.

  • Ask…. and listen!
  • If you are stuck for ideas and are not sure what you and your colleagues want and enjoy – just ask! Every business and team is different and people may have different ideas and needs. In times like this you cannot communicate too much or reach out to each other too much.
    For support to communicate and build your employee engagement or internal communication strategy, please get in touch to see how we can help.