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The Courthouse Journal is the official newsletter of the Washington Association of County Officials. Along with a newsletter to members, WACO also hosts the Courthouse Journal blog.

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Dec 03

Identifying and Combating Virtual Fatigue

Posted on December 3, 2020 at 2:52 PM by Melanie Terry

woman expresses virtual fatigue

Have you heard the following: “I am tired of these video calls” or “I can’t wait till we meet in person”? Do you find you or your employees are more tired after a long day of working virtually? This is felt nationwide.
In a recent NACo meeting, County Associations reported many employees felt “webinar fatigue” and it was becoming an increasing challenge.  

Webinar, or virtual, fatigue is caused from the overuse of virtual work and meetings. Although software like Zoom is enabling business to continue during a global pandemic, it is also making individuals more tired from using it. 

While nine months after Washington’s initial Covid “lockdown”, some services have been restored to an in-person format many county officials continue to spend countless hours on their computers on virtual meetings and webinars in order to manager their office, staff, and provide statutorily mandated services to their communities.
 
 

Many are experiencing a non-verbal overload. You have probably heard the statement that most of communication is expressed through body language and not words. That is true, in fact, around 55% of communication is body language. During virtual meetings, when all you can see is a screen of Brady Bunch style floating heads it “puts added strain on your brain.” As Julia Skar writes, “the layout of video call forces your brain to decode so many people at once that no one comes through meaningfully, not even the speaker.” This can become exhausting when one is expected to be on multiple high-stake video calls a day in addition to completing their normal workload 


Since some virtual meetings are here for the 
foreseeable virtual, it is important to recognize virtual fatigue and learn how to combat it in the workplace. Here are some resources we find helpful: 


Forbes – Five Ways to Avoid Digital Fatigue and Stay Engaged in a World of Virtual Work
: One of the best take-ways from this article was the first tip “One on one check-ins” with your staff members to assess their productively and struggles.  


M
yWorkplaceHealth - Resilience Tips for Virtual Fatigue: This article offers tips from Charmaine Hammond, a conflict resolution specialist with MyWorkplaceHealth, who has also taught resilience and compassion fatigue for many years has put together some tips for managing virtual fatigue based on her personal experience.   


Washington Office of Financial Management – Telework Resources: This page contains many resources to set managers and employees up for success while teleworking.  


WBUR – How We Are Doing – And What We Are Learning
This article examines how working from home and virtual meetings will shape the future workplace, while looking at what is and is not working. 


The last 
resource we continue to reference is MRSC’s Telecommuting page. Not only does it offer links to helpful tips on virtual fatigue and burnout, but it also offers links to Counties who have created teleworking policies, which is helpful if your office will consider similar policies in the future. Setting clear and concise teleworking plans will create a path of success for employees that remain virtual, combating the threat of virtual fatigue.