Two Radical Ideas for Leaders to fight ‘Zoom fatigue’

Prior to the pandemic, I often heard tales of people talking about how their busy days were full of back to back meetings. On hearing these stories, I often wondered how they ever got any work done.

Over the last year, with people working remotely, this situation seems to have become exacerbated. I now hear tales of many people working longer and longer hours filled with back to back meetings using videoconferencing software like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams…you name it. So much that many are starting to suffer from ‘Zoom fatigue’ – a phenomenon that already made it into scientific articles.  

Beside the common issue of feeling exhausted after a day of video calls, the underlying problem with the situation is…when do leaders get time to think? To explore? To solve strategy problems? And ultimately, when do we find time to get to know our clients, colleagues better?


How to fight Zoom fatigue

To remedy that situation, I believe as leaders we need to break out of the pattern that we find ourselves in and resolve to do something radically different for the benefit of our own and our customers. Fitting into Freshworks’ theme of helping companies making a fresh start in 2021, here’s a couple of radical ideas that I would like executives to consider who are suffering from Zoom exhaustion and videoconferencing overload:


Make the most use of your time – and other people’s time as well

The first idea centres around a story about a leader that took over a software company. The first thing that she did on taking the helm was gather all of her senior executives together. When together, she said to them: “You all have Executive Assistants (EA), who are all very skilled and capable people. I would like you to redeploy them into other areas of the business where the business can benefit from their skills and experience. In doing so, you will then have to take control of your calendar and, thus, your own time. The rationale being that you only really manage what you directly control”.


Free time for thinking 

The second idea is about proactively creating space to think. This involves arbitrarily cancelling 20-30% of all meetings in your calendar every week. The goal is to free up between a full day to a full day and a half every week to allow you to think, explore and get to know your customers better. For many, this may sound like a radical idea. But, I checked how ‘mad’ this idea was with a senior and global experience leader, and she told me that it was something that she has been doing for years. She also swears by it as a way of routinely freeing up time and space every week. However, she did admit that initially she found it hard to choose which meetings not to attend, particularly when you factor in the social condition of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). But, once she started and explained to her colleagues what she was doing and why she found herself taking on the task every week with zeal. Not surprisingly, when she started this practice, she also gave her colleagues permission to follow in her footsteps.


Two practical tips

So, here’s my challenge to global leaders, especially if they aspire to create a stand out customer experience:

  • If you have an executive assistant, thank them for their service and find them a great job elsewhere in the business
  • Start cancelling meetings every week to free up that space you will need if you are to build a better understanding of your customers and plot your way to delivering a great customer experience


If you are not willing to do something different, how can you expect to see different results? Remember, as a leader, everything starts with you. 

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