How to Survive the Digital Workplace (and Avoid Zoom Fatigue)

5 min read
September 17, 2020

Earlier this year, we, like conference organizers across the globe, made the difficult decision to move our national conference, XYPN LIVE, online. Since then, XYPN LIVE 2020 has become an exciting new project (and challenge) for Team XYPN and has pushed us to explore more options and engage differently than we ever have before. 

Whether you were ready for it or not, online video conferencing is now the rule rather than the exception. It seems as though we went to bed one night and woke the next morning to an almost entirely digital experience. We were left wondering where our in-person coffee meet-ups with coworkers and clients went.

For now, virtual reality is our reality, and while you can spend your days lamenting the loss of the in-person experience (I know I have), it's much more productive to learn how to make the most of the virtual reality that is our reality.

The Struggle is Real: Digital Burnout

It’s a Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 (business) hours into the workweek, and you feel exhausted and scatterbrained. What’s going on? The World Health Organization would diagnose this as burnout: “... a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Add in the multitude of screens we all face on a 24-hour basis and digital burnout seems all but inevitable. Guess what? It’s sapping your productivity too! Multiple studies have cited that over half of office professionals are suffering, with nearly 50% claiming that screen overload is making them and their teams less productive. Video calls use a different, more intense kind of focus than we’re used to with our typical in-person meetings and conferences.

Nowadays, most of your industry conferences and your social life have moved onto your screen. You get to stay connected but you’re also grappling with the impact of being constantly connected. How do you minimize the effects of digital burnout so you can continue to enjoy your job and your connections?

Plan Out Your Day (and Breaks!)

The combination of constant meetings and sitting in one (likely ergonomically incorrect) place is tough on both your mind and your body. If you have a jam-packed day, be sure to make time to give yourself a chance to get up, have a bio break, stretch, and re-engage before the next call.

Stay Focused

It’s so tempting to start on something else the minute you feel your attention waning. When that urge hits, remember that bodies of research have shown that humans are exceptionally bad at multitasking and that it actually reduces your retention. Close the other tabs, silence your cell phone, and create a physical space to prevent you from checking out. 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

While it’s important to come to a video call in a presentable state, it’s even more important for you to focus on the content and not your reflection. Most of use tend to channel our own inner Narcissus, even when we don’t mean to. Use the ‘hide self view’ feature on your video platform to give yourself a break.

Moderate Screen Time

It can be tempting to stack professional and social obligations up like a Jenga tower, weaving back and forth as it ultimately comes crashing down. If you know you have a big professional obligation looming (ahem, XYPN LIVE 2020), give yourself time the days before and after to take a break from the screen. That may mean that you need to miss the Saturday morning champagne brunch over Zoom with your friends but it will ultimately help you engage in the conference or training that you shelled out that hard-earned cash for. 

Keeping It Conference-Ready

So you’ve used the above tips to help ease the general digital burnout that you’ve been experiencing in your day to day. Feels pretty good, right? Now let’s talk about what happens when something big, say XYPN LIVE 2020, comes along and you need the highest level of engagement and hype possible.

Go Old School!

Studies have shown that taking notes by hand on paper is more effective for both understanding and retention than typing them up. While it can be tempting to keep it all in one place, the act of typing on your keyboard can also lead you to start Facebook surfing, email checking, and IMing, none of which will be anything more than a distraction to you during a conference.

Stay Open to the Possibilities

Depending on your feelings toward virtual conferences, you may come to the proverbial table with an unconscious bias about the experience you’ll have and doubts about the new knowledge you’ll walk away with. These feelings can stem from many places, including your current frustrations with recent events and the changes they’ve necessitated. While it may look a little different, I’d encourage you to remember that the team organizing with the new format is doing no less work than they would in a “normal” year (quite the opposite, in fact) and that the content will still be the same high-quality you’ve come to expect.

Make a Plan

Just like at any in-person conference, you’ll need to have a handle on your schedule. This is especially important at a virtual event as the visual and verbal cues may feel different during session transitions and you don’t want to miss any 5-star content. 

Don’t Wing It!

Virtual conference platforms, especially those you’ve never used before, can be complex and sometimes downright confusing. Don’t wait until the last minute to familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll be using. Basics include testing your audio and WiFi, trying out any new office setups, and engaging in any pre-con trainings offered. Attendees to the upcoming XYPN LIVE 2020 will be invited to do exactly that prior to the conference. 

The Big Day

You’ve planned and you’ve prepped. You’ve filled your favorite coffee container and outlined your bio-fuel plan (read: snack line-up) for the big day. Your WiFi is running at top speed and your raring to go. It’s the day of XYPN LIVE 2020! What can you do to make the most of it in the moment?

Put On a Happy Face (Smile and Nod, Folks)

Active participation actions have been scientifically proven to correlate to increased engagement and information retention. Follow along with the presenters, lean in to any community opportunities (XYPN LIVE 2020 has a dedicated community track!), and make sure to stick around for the whole event to get out of the conference what you put in.

We’re All Friends Here

Those community opportunities I mentioned? They’re a HUGE part of the value of attending a conference like XYPN LIVE 2020. Just because we can’t meet in-person doesn't mean we can't still form valuable, lasting connections. Mixers, happy hours, and networking sessions will give you a chance to mingle with others in your field who see the financial planning profession and its future the same way you do. Where else are you going to have a chance to connect with such an impressive group of industry rockstars?

Don't forget to grab your pass for XYPN LIVE 2020, the can't-miss (virtual) event for financial advisors.

XYPN Kassy Betterley Headshot

About the Author

As part of XYPN’s Member Services team, Kassy helps to personalize advisors’ relationships with XYPN membership and helps to ensure a high quality experience in her role as a Member Experience Specialist (MES). She is passionate about thoughtfully constructed processes and thrives when helping others problem-solve. Connecting people to each other is a great source of joy for her and she does so whenever the opportunity arises.

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