Remote work

4 alternatives to video meetings

Since the start of the pandemic, video meetings have quickly become the go-to form of workplace communication to facilitate effective communication while remote working. But as many of us have found out, spending so much time communicating through a screen can cause problems for our mental health. ‘Zoom fatigue, a negative result of spending time attending numerous video conferences, is estimated to impact half of all working professionals. Video meetings are also time consuming to set-up and often last longer than intended, which negatively affects our focus and productivity. With many of us growing increasingly tired of video meetings, perhaps it’s time to look into some alternatives.

What is Zoom fatigue?

Before we explore some useful alternatives to the popular video conference, it may be best to first explain what we meant by ‘Zoom fatigue’ and why we should avoid it. If you’ve ever felt mentally drained after sitting in a couple of video meetings then you’ve experienced Zoom fatigue. It’s as simple as it sounds- Zoom fatigue is a feeling of mental exhaustion that comes after spending some time participating in video meetings. Apart from being a generally uncomfortable feeling, it can be detrimental to our productivity at work as it can cause us to feel sluggish and tired.

What causes Zoom fatigue?

Zoom fatigue can occur due to a couple of reasons. During video meetings, faces appear unnaturally large and close to us and we’re constantly expecting interruptions from colleagues. In addition, we’re unable to fully read body language and are put off by consistent eye contact. As a result, we can end up feeling tense and tired after video conferencing

However, there is some good news. Zoom fatigue can actually be avoided if teams don’t rely on video meetings as their primary mode of communication. We recommend using various other asynchronous communication tools (communication that doesn’t occur in real time) in place of some of your video meetings to prevent the build up of Zoom fatigue. Here are some great alternatives to video meetings for your remote teams to explore.

1. Voice messaging for remote working

A great way to start cutting down on the number of video meetings you’re having is to replace some of them with voice messaging. Voice messaging is the best asynchronous communication tool to use in place of video conferencing. Sending a voice message is just like having a conversation with someone, just not always at the same time or live on camera. You can keep the personality and tone that’s preserved in your voice and use this to ensure that your true feelings don’t get miscommunicated as they often do over text. This is why voice messaging is ideal for sending praise and feedback. It’s also a useful tool for providing updates and checking in with colleagues. 

2. Instant messaging for remote working

While not being as personal as voice messaging, instant messaging and work messaging tools can also be quick ways to converse with team members. They remove the need for video conferencing because you can easily send quick questions and updates. Also, multiple people can be present in a chat, similar to being in a meeting room. Work messaging can even be better than video conferencing because you have time to think out what you want to send. Often this results in more detailed and insightful responses. 

Be careful with this form of communication though. Sometimes recipients can misread the tone of a message (such as to be aggressive when it really wasn’t intended to be so), causing some uncomfortable moments for your teams.

3. File sharing tools for remote working

File sharing tools such as Google Docs allow teams to work on files in live time and from different locations. Definitely a benefit for remote working! Teams can see each other making changes in real time and anyone not present can always jump in to edit later on with full access to a change log. Such tools also allow team members to bring certain things to the attention of others through leaving comments and feedback. 

These tools are great for facilitating distance team collaboration that successfully includes remote working team members. Offering a way to edit and work on documents together across distance eliminates the need for long video meetings that try to achieve the same thing.

4. Workplace forums and project management tools for remote working

Workplace forums and project tools such as Notion and Monday provide organizations with a useful virtual dashboard. This dashboard aims to provide collaboration opportunities and keep all team members up to date with any project or team news. These tools provide various features such as project plans and news/ resource sharing boards. Discussion boards are also available for working live on projects or solving certain issues.

These platforms are hubs of communication and team collaboration that bring all employees, business projects and tasks together to one place. In this way, they effectively streamline collaboration. If these tools are used properly, video meetings discussing the distribution and progress of tasks simply won’t be needed anymore.


Take Away

Through using the right tools and asynchronous communication, you can make Zoom fatigue a thing of the past while still properly connecting your remote working teams. Video meetings shouldn’t be relied on as the primary form of communication when so many other asynchronous communication tools can also facilitate team collaboration and communication. Don’t drain everyone’s time and mental energy with back-to-back video meetings – sometimes it’s best to just send a voice message.

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