Tech Companies Look for Ways to Ease Workforce Zoom Fatigue

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Zoom fatigue has gotten the attention of Big Tech. Companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Google are tweaking their products in an effort to dilute the effects of too much digital time that’s being experienced by workers who’ve spent more than a year laboring from home.

The Wall Street Journal reports that with the “workspace” increasingly located at home, the workday has expanded to encompass more hours, plus weekends, while the number of video meetings increases as workers collaborate and generally stay in touch.

Big tech companies are exploring more ways to minimize the impact of Zoom Fatigue on workers still laboring from home, a year into Covid-19. #HR #HRTech @WSJ Share on X

Microsoft incorporated an Outlook control that prevents back-to-back video meetings by building in breaks. Adobe is developing a tool to help users reorganize their days based on set priorities, while Google has updated Workspace to help delineate work hours.

Meanwhile, some employers are taking their own actions, such as banning video meetings on Fridays and polling meeting participants about whether the discussions they’ve participated in are worth the time.

Into Their Own Hands

Because people were already looking for ways to cut their number of meetings and take short breaks, workplace experts say such prompts could be helpful.

However, some of these features seem to be designed with the employer’s needs prioritized over what employees might prefer, the Journal said. For example, one user experience designer said it would be more beneficial to stop all notifications during breaks, rather than create breaks between meetings.

Google seems to be stepping down that path with a new calendar feature called Focus Time. The features cuts the number of notifications it presents during periods designated as uninterrupted worktime and changes a user’s status to “do not disturb.”

“The acceleration that happened during Covid, where suddenly the only way to connect with others was through technology, it was clear that we needed to be better at using it and defining our own boundaries,” said Nellie Hayat, head of workplace transformation at VergeSense, a workplace analytics platform. At the same time, such efforts have to be “synchronized with others,” she added.

The fact such discussions are taking place at all is noteworthy. “Even for organizations to come around and say like, ‘OK, our people are very stressed, they’re very anxious, well-being needs to be one of our top priorities for the next six months’—that’s not really a conversation that we heard before,” observed Liz Fosslien, co-author of “No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions At Work.”

Image: iStock

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