COVID-19

Too much virtual connection can be a bad thing

Jasmine Garsd Apr 6, 2020
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A substitute teacher in Bethesda, Maryland, works from home on April 1, 2020.
COVID-19

Too much virtual connection can be a bad thing

Jasmine Garsd Apr 6, 2020
A substitute teacher in Bethesda, Maryland, works from home on April 1, 2020.
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Millions of Americans are working from home right now. We’re trying to connect with colleagues more than ever before; the use of video conferencing services like Zoom has skyrocketed. Some might say we’re trying a little too hard.

Let me paint a picture for you. You’re at home working. You’re in your sweatpants, your kids are tearing each other apart in the background, and your hair — let’s not even talk about your hair. Suddenly, you get a video call from your boss.  

“It’s exhausting because of the level of access,” said Michael Cohen, an educator in Tel Aviv. “It’s exhausting because people can contact you at any hour.”

Mallory McMaster, who teaches executives and employees how to be better communicators, said even though video calls are one step closer to in-person meetings than phone calls, it’s still a lot of work to be watching a dozen of your colleagues at once. 

“It’s actually harder and it takes more energy to communicate that way,” McMaster said.

She’s reminding some companies not to use tools like Zoom as a way to check up on workers — only for actual meetings. She recommends everyone be assertive with their time.

“What I’ve told people is maybe set a limit of two hours of video calls a day and be upfront and honest with your teammates or your employers or your clients about that,” she said.

According to New York-based psychologist Andy Schwem, there’s another, deeper reason these video calls feel tiring. 

“It’s really nice to connect with others, and there was this initial outburst as soon as the stay-in-places got put into place,” he said, adding: “… seeing the people and doing this form of communication can just remind you of what’s going on.”

People are at home because of a deadly global pandemic — it’s OK to want to disconnect from that reminder.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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