As people continue to work remotely, in isolation or with the demands of home life seeping into their workdays, organizational leaders are looking for guidance on how to protect the mental and emotional health of their employees, especially those feeling anxious about returning to a shared office space. Here, leading authorities offer companies insights and strategies for addressing a range of related issues which can – and must – be managed.

 

Zoom Fatigue is Real and Here’s How to Fix It

Jeremy Bailenson
Jeff Hancock

Jeremy Bailenson

Virtual Reality Pioneer and Authority on Emerging Technologies That Impact Virtual Experiences in Business and Society; Cognitive Psychologist; Founding Director, Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Stanford University; Author, “Experience on Demand” (2018)

Jeff Hancock

Authority on Social Media Behavior and Psychology of Online Interaction; Expert on Technology’s Role in Deception and Trust; Founder, Stanford University Social Media Lab

“There are five kinds of Zoom fatigue,” says Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. “You can be emotionally fatigued (you feel sad). You can feel physically fatigued (your eyes hurt, your body’s tired). You can be socially fatigued (you just don’t’ feel like seeing anybody). You can be motivationally fatigued (you don’t feel like doing anything.) Or you can be generally fatigued (you feel like taking a nap).”

To better understand the problem and develop solutions, Bailenson and his colleague, Jeff Hancock, led a team that created the Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue (ZEF) scale. Even though women scored 14% higher on all five types of fatigue, they found the problem exists across the spectrum of remote work life.

With most organizations leaning toward a hybrid work model post pandemic, Hancock says getting remote aspects of work right will be crucial for success. In addition to helping organizations mitigate the effects of zoom fatigue, Bailenson and Hancock advise leaders on ways to proactively maintain trust, productivity, collaboration, job satisfaction and a cohesive culture in the remote/hybrid workspace.

 

Mental Health and a Safe Return to Work

Shantanu Nundy, MD, MBA

Dr. Shantanu Nundy

Physician, Entrepreneur and Digital Health Care Advocate Working to Build a More Effective, Equitable and Affordable Health Care System; Chief Medical Officer, Accolade; Health Care Policy Lecturer, George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health; Author, “Care After Covid” (May 2021)

“COVID first arrived as a physical illness. The second stage is the mental health aspect, the emotional trauma from social distancing, loss of loved ones, the long-haul effects that stay with people,” says Dr. Shantanu Nundy, who has spent years researching and designing systems to address the physical and mental health needs of patients and caregivers.

A technology expert, physician and entrepreneur, Dr. Nundy has been helping Fortune 500 leaders and teams prepare for a post-pandemic return to work. His mental health approach, which provides remote coaching to people on the way in and out of mental health programs, offers policymakers and the health care industry a promising way to scale mental health services.

“Companies will be dealing with this, especially in the C-suite,” says Nundy. “We need a more systematic approach to elevating mental health.”

 

Dying for a Paycheck

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Renowned Authority on Power and Influence, Turning Knowledge Into Action, Evidence-Based Management and Building Cultures That Achieve Competitive Advantage Through People; Professor of Organizational Behavior, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

According to a study co-authored by Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer – a leading authority on power, influence and leadership – the workplace was the fifth leading cause of death, and harmful workplace practices cost the economy about $1.5 trillion annually in absence, reduced productivity, and excess health care costs. The toll has been compounded by the new impacts of pandemic-related stress and job insecurity. The direct effects of this enduring health emergency include high turnover, presenteeism (emotional and mental absence from work), and barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion. Against the backdrop of a rise in suicide rates and pervasive chronic disease that is attributable to stress and depression, Pfeffer promotes a visionary solution: treat productivity as a human sustainability issue. “This does not amount to a trade-off between health and economic performance,” says Pfeffer, author of the eye-opening book “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance ― and What We Can Do About It” (2018). “Companies suffer losses by not investing in employee well-being.”

Grounding his work in observable workplace trends and a deep understanding of the connection between behavioral and physical health, Pfeffer helps leaders across sectors bring all types of health issues (mental, emotional, physical) out into the open and offers practical steps companies can take to create healthier and more profitable workplaces.

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