Remote employees can struggle with a lack of engagement, loneliness, and burnout. It’s a universal experience in the digital age of communication. How can we overcome this?
The impact of digital communication and how to create a positive work culture online
You have probably heard of Zoom fatigue. Too many online meetings and too much unnatural communication.
Working online requires constant virtual meetings with colleagues and clients. The ease of reaching anyone at any moment has for some people caused an increase in meetings. This has taken a toll on hybrid and remote employees.
In a survey conducted by Loom in which over 3000 respondents from the UK and the US partook, 98% of workers reported feeling stressed out by digital communication.
It is very unnatural to address a group of close-up faces on a screen and often there is an absence of cues making it harder to connect. During an in-person meeting, people are in a more relaxed environment where they aren’t constantly being stared at when they speak.
How to overcome Zoom fatigue
- Encourage your remote employees to only take on necessary meetings and ask the question ‘Can this be sorted through an email or message?’, if the answer is yes, cancel the meeting.
- Shorten your meetings and be strict on time. If the meeting is becoming aimless, wrap it up and plan the next one with a new meeting agenda.
- Don’t always show your face during a group Zoom call. It can cause unnecessary anxiety, especially during long meetings. Take breaks and resort to just audio from time to time to reduce the stress from people constantly staring at you.
- Take physical breaks during meetings. Sometimes the creativity and ideas start flowing and don’t stop, if agreed by everyone, take a 10-20 minute break and come back to the meeting refreshed.
Here at Livit, Wednesdays are a “no meeting day”. We get a whole day to focus on any important tasks without the stress of preparing for a meeting. I have found that it makes me really productive, especially since it happens in the middle of the week so I am able to focus on organizing all my work before the week wraps up.
Lack of productivity
Lack of productivity can be linked back to Zoom fatigue. In the same Loom study, 62% admitted to multitasking while attending virutal meetings. This could be due to the time spent on unnecessary meetings that take time away from actual work.
Feeling unproductive is not a great feeling and it is common for remote employees. It can be hard to detach from work and feel accomplished in your day-to-day when working around so many distractions. Especially when half of your day is spent in meetings or responding to online communication such as email, Slack/Microsoft Teams messages.
How to boost remote work productivity
- Create weekly schedules to keep you on track and turn it into a routine. Use Google Calendar or something similar to plan your day hour-by-hour at the start of each week. This can help you prioritize tasks and ensure they are completed in a timely manner.
- Time track your work. Use a timer or a platform like Hubstaff which times how long you spend working on a task. This can ensure you stay focused and allow you to allocate specific times for several tasks.
- Minimise distractions. Set up a designated workspace for yourself which could be an office or a table in your home solely used for working. Turn off notifications during tasks that require full concentration or are time limited.
- Create motivation by using breaks. Simply reward yourself after completing a certain task with a coffee break or a short walk. As someone who works from home, I can assure you that my caffeine addiction is a great motivator when I need to get work done.
Feelings of isolation
One of the biggest impacts of digital communication on remote workers is loneliness. According to a survey by Buffer, 23% of remote workers stated they struggled with loneliness.
It is not surprising that some remote workers feel disconnected from their company. Working from home can be isolating, you may only speak to your colleagues during Zoom meetings where there is a lack of relaxed conversation.
Building a strong company culture is vital for a business to thrive. There are many ways to create a positive company culture through the virtual world.
How to support remote employees who feel isolated
- Creating virtual activities, even small ones can make a difference. Slack offers apps like Donut which invite two employees to have a virutal coffee, sparking conversations between coworkers online.
- Schedule team-building events often. Virtual team-building events can be a great way to help remote employees feel more engaged with one another. It can also be a great icebreaker for new employees who work remotely.
- Regular check-ins between managers and employees. One-on-one virtual meetings help remote employees express any concerns they may have and increases transparency.
- Provide resources and opportunities for professional development. This can help motivate employees and make them feel more connected to the work and business.
While working for Livit, I have had the opportunity to take time out of my work week and invest in personal Learning and Development activities. This has allowed me to target my interests outside of the daily work I do and explore new courses or learn from other employees whose work interests me. Not only is my skillset broadening but I am more motivated to implement new skills into my marketing and BD work here at Livit.
Giving your employees the time to explore their interests can increase job satisfaction. It can also improve adaptability in the event that they want to expand into a different role within the business.
Livit has been remote-capable for over 10 years, read here to see the online tools we have tested and favorited.