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.

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