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Remote Work practice: how to make it more efficient and less tedious – Financial Newspaper

A number of companies encourage their employees to work remotely full-time. But even with the opportunity to constantly work from home, many employees want to spend time in the office. Dmitry Arkhipov, Director of Business Development at JPL Telecom in Russia and the CIS, talks about how to make “remote” more efficient.

It is believed that representatives of generation Z are more inclined to work remotely. They are well versed in new productivity tools, it is natural for them, for example, to communicate in video chats.

However, there are also those who, “stuck” at home during the pandemic, are looking forward to returning to the office. A study conducted by McKinsey & Company shows that young people aged 18 to 29 are more interested in a hybrid work environment when they work two or three days a week at home and the rest of the time in the office. In this group, 48% of respondents reported that they would prefer hybrid work. The same desire was expressed by 44% of employees aged 30 to 49 years and 38% – from 50 years and older.

Advantages of hybrid operation

Young people have conflicting interests. On the one hand, this category is more technological, on the other – it needs experience and mentoring. And although everyone appreciates the opportunities for personal communication, young employees may especially need it. The results of a recent study conducted by the American Springtide Research Center show that a little less than half of the surveyed representatives of generation Z have mentors at work. The need for the natural development of personality and social ties of young employees determines their desire to spend some time in the office.

The physical space provided at work also attracts representatives of generation Z: many of them are crammed into apartments or common areas where working conditions are not very comfortable, and there is no way to organize a normal workplace.

Finding the optimal work-life balance is also an important factor. The pandemic has actually increased the average working day by almost an hour, and employees are often forced to respond to emails and messages at any time of the day. Staying in the office can help employees establish a clearer line between work and personal life.

Experts say that hybrid work allows you to better control your working day while reducing burnout factors. During the pandemic, many felt how exhausting the removal can be. But despite this, its flexibility and autonomy remain a high priority. The ability to work remotely often contributes to flexibility in the choice of location, productivity and creativity.

The hybrid work model combines the best qualities of office and remote work.  The ideal hybrid work environment allows employees to choose what is best suited for the job and realize these opportunities with the support and resources of the employer.

Video conferences cause fatigue and stress

Despite the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are using popular video chat platforms to communicate with colleagues, family and friends, Stanford researchers warn: video calls can be tiring. In connection with the recent boom in video conferencing, they studied the psychological consequences of the daily use of Zoom and other popular platforms. They identified four consequences of prolonged video chats that contribute to fatigue.

The goal was not to evaluate any particular videoconferencing platform but to emphasize how tedious the current implementations of VCS technologies are, and to suggest interface changes, many of which are easy to implement. Moreover, they give tips on how to use video conferencing features to reduce fatigue.

Here are the four main reasons why video chats tire people out:
  1. Excessive eye contact at close range. During a VCS session, everyone looks at everyone all the time. The listener is treated nonverbally as a speaker, so even if you have never spoken at meeting, you still look at the faces. The social anxiety of public speaking is one of the phobias. When everyone is looking at you, it’s stressful. Another source of stress is that during video conferencing, faces may seem too big. Our brain interprets this as a tense situation. It recommends reducing the window to minimize the size of the face and using an external keyboard to increase personal space.
  2.  Constantly seeing yourself during a live video chat is exhausting. Experts recommend that platforms change the standard practice of transmitting video both to themselves and to others when it needs to be shown to send to others. It is better for users to choose the option “hide your own image”.
  3. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility. Phone conversations allow people to walk and move. But most cameras have a fixed field of view, which means that during a video conference, a person usually has to stay in the same place. Movement is limited, meanwhile, there is a growing number of studies that say that when people move, their cognitive abilities improve. An external camera located further from the screen and a wireless headset will allow you to behave in virtual meetings as in real ones. And, of course, periodically turning off the video during meetings is a good basic rule that should be set, just to give yourself a short rest.
  4. In video chats, the cognitive load is much higher. In ordinary personal communication, nonverbal communication is quite natural, and each of us subconsciously makes and interprets gestures and gives nonverbal signals. But in video chats, we have to think about it. This increases the cognitive load. During long virtual meetings, you should sometimes turn off the video and leave only the sound. This means that you don’t just turn off the camera to take a break from nonverbal activity, but you can also turn away from the screen.

How to increase the comfort of communication

Workplace equipment, including high-quality wired and wireless headsets, plays an important role in creating a productive environment for remote work. When it comes to a computer headset, gaming models with a bright design and massive construction immediately come to mind. However, users do not always need such devices and are often looking for something easier to use and less expensive for work purposes.

One of the trends was the appearance of modular headsets – devices where you can change or improve individual components. This allows you to customize configurations depending on the tasks. In addition, having a set of accessories, you can rearrange components between devices so that each employee can assemble the most effective accessory for himself and work with the highest productivity. And even with significant breakdowns, only the failed part can be replaced. Used devices have to be disposed of less often, which means less plastic pollution and a carbon footprint during production. Ultimately, modular solutions for VCS and contact centers become the best choice for companies, both in terms of financial efficiency and comfort for employees.

Many organizations, including schools, large companies and government agencies, have turned to researchers from Stanford University to adopt the best practices of videoconferencing and develop recommendations. Researchers have proposed a scale of exhaustion and fatigue to help measure how much people get tired in the workplace due to VCS. The scale helps to measure fatigue from interpersonal communication technologies, as well as to understand what exactly causes fatigue. The questions relate to general human fatigue, physical, social, emotional and motivational fatigue.

We live in that era of videoconferencing, and understanding the mechanisms will help to understand the optimal way to organize remote work, help identify problems and help adapt the practice of videoconferencing to eliminate fatigue factors, and developers of video conferencing platforms will rethink some of the paradigms on which videoconferencing is based.

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