These are highlights of factoids covered in our remote-work quizzes. We can customize remote-work quizzes and/or return-to-work/adapt-to-work quizzes. Just ping us here.
They take place in the privacy of your own home. They generally start and end on time. You don’t have to get dressed up. Always plenty of free parking. No dry cleaning bills. And probably other things that would be TMI. Surveys focus on these and other upsides:
Yet somehow many employees hate Zoom meetings. Why are Zoom meetings so stressful?
This edition of Six Things explores why you should validate, mitigate, and even solve those employee stresses, rather than dismiss them, or think they are all in someone’s head.
(1) No non-verbal cues
Non-verbal cues are very helpful. Some psychologists will tell you that body language is even more important than language in conveying feelings. Lacking this connection in a Zoom meeting, or trying to overcome it with sustained eye contact, can be very stressful. You can feel like you are talking into a wall. How are people reacting? Should you pivot? Pause? Slow down? Speed up? You just don’t know.
(2) No verbal cues
You have to connect with your audience when you present. You can feel that connection when you have it. That's why a comedian often says: "You've been a great audience.” They are appreciating the connection. But, on Zoom, typically all except the speaker are muted.
(3) Difficulty in spurring a natural discussion
Only one person can be comfortably heard at a time on Zoom meetings. This makes reticent people even more reticent to join the discussion. The reverse is true too – people who have a lot to add may be reluctant to speak up. Or, people with nothing to add may dominate, due to force of personality.
(4) Inadequate technology
Not many years ago, free streaming of real-time video meetings into your living room would have been sounded like a miracle. That miracle, like many technology miracles, has morphed into an entitlement.
It’s amazing how quickly the miracle-to-entitlement transition takes place. Example: when a low-quality call on a balky airphone cost $2/minute, no one would have ever guessed we would soon be downloading entire documents from the sky. And yet, think of how annoyed you are these days, when you have to disconnect below 10,000 feet.
Zoom is jouncy. It freezes. It blurs. Some of this takes place below our conscious awareness: “Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why.”
(5) Self-consciousness about your appearance.
Video that lacks the traditional camera apertures and depth on which the image is captured (meaning the cameras on cellphones and laptops) distort your appearance. While not quite to the level of a funhouse mirror, features are enlarged and (as with any video) small movements are exaggerated. Zoom even offers a filter to improve your appearance.
You shouldn’t be staring at a screen for hours straight. This can cause eyestrain. People who haven’t taken the Quizzify quizzes might not realize that the bottled eye moisteners – the ones that “get the red out,” in particular – can actually harm your eyes. You need to use the vials. We published a named testimonial on this from someone whose worklife improved dramatically after taking our vision quiz—simply by switching eyedrops. (Scroll down to find it -- below the reviews from the New York Times, Makary Makary, Ron Goetzel, David Contorno, and others.)
Just say no to these.
Use these instead.
Likewise, Quizzify users know that staring at a screen for hours on end can cause “pseudo-myopia,” meaning nearsightedness. It’s usually temporary, but our Quizmeister-in-Chief swears his is permanent. (His optometrist validated this perception -- that’s where he got the idea for the quiz question.)
This condition is easy enough to avoid: every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for 20 seconds at an object 20 feet away. (There’s an app for that. Actually several.)
Or, you could turn the camera off. just sayin'...
What to do next
Those last two of the Six Things are easily solved. For the other four consider: Zoom meetings, like anything else, must be taught. Not just the technology, but training in how to get people to feel the meetings, to pivot, to use the chat box (which is not as easy as it sounds), to encourage questions in the Q&A. Maybe you could buy remote employees a headset/microphone.
Zoom has features that can even enhance these meetings. The virtual backgrounds are the best example. Here is an example of another. During a meeting, suppose someone says it’s their birthday, On the fly, I can change the moniker on my (yes, unflattering) video from Al Lewis to:
But most importantly, these meetings, one after another, can be stressful. Acknowledge that stress is common and normal prevents employees from feeling there is something wrong with them. There is enough COVID anxiety already. Unlike that anxiety, Zoom stress can be readily mitigated.