July 16, 2020Published by: Harry Langdon

Banish ‘Zoom fatigue’ and embrace your personality in the ‘new normal’

Four months on from the remote working revolution, and companies are finally starting to return to the office. But with physical distancing guidelines still in place, it’s likely to be some time yet before the office gets back to any semblance of ‘normality’. 

This period has accelerated new working methods and processes, and technology is now at the forefront of everything we do. From day one of WFH at Battenhall, we started off each day with a coffee catch-up on video via Google Hangouts. We wanted to continue having the remote working equivalent of talking about our commute or the latest TV binge series – the types of conversations we’d usually have in the office kitchen or at our desks. 

Zoom fatigue
The catch-up still takes place every day, but after several months of virtual meetings, many people across the world are complaining of ‘Zoom fatigue’, a concept that is broken down in this National Geographic article. To summarise, it is that virtual interactions are hard on the brain; it is tiring to hold 10 conversations at the same time on one screen, as each person searches for subtle physical cues from people in tiny littles boxes. Our brains do all these calculations naturally in person, when we can subconsciously take in a person’s body language - and there are no distractions like a bad Wi-Fi connection.

Many friends I’ve spoken to have said they now avoid it if they can, or prefer calls with no one on video. I’m the complete opposite, though – I love seeing people and find the meetings are more productive when others are on camera, too. It was discussions like this that got me thinking about the four colours personality test – an assessment taken by many organisations to understand the traits of their employees, and assign people a colour or colours. You may have also done one that involves letters, or introvert / extrovert labels. While these are far from perfect tests, it does beg the question: does your personal working style and your own set of personality traits affect the way you work from home? 

'Four colours' personality traits

  • Blue: Introverted and have a desire to know and understand the world around them. Prefer written communication in order to maintain clarity and precision, radiating a desire for analysis.
  • Red: Extroverted and have high energy. Action-oriented and always in motion. Will approach others in a direct, authoritative manner, radiating a desire for power and control.
  • Green: Energy focuses on values and depth in relationships. Want others to be able to rely on them. Prefer democratic relations that value the individual and are personal in style, radiating a desire for understanding.
  • Yellow: Strongly extroverted, radiant, and friendly. Usually positive and concerned with good human relations. Will approach others in a persuasive, democratic manner, radiating a desire for sociability.

This is a broad brush stroke approach of course, and it’s entirely possible everyone is a mix of colours and can change over time, but it did get me thinking about the way we approach our work at home and the new emotions brought to light. Do different colours excel or fatigue from different ‘working from home’ activities? 

If I'm predominantly yellow / green (which I was last time I was tested), then perhaps that’s a reason I love video calls and don’t seem to be too affected by them. Could it be that ‘Zoom fatigue’ is something more susceptible, ironically, to ‘blues’? My fatigue usually stems from colleague relationships, e.g. making sure everyone is loving life and working to the best of their ability. This is something I think about even away from the laptop screen. 

Are ‘reds’ more productive at home in their personal work, but struggle with the lack of directness they can usually admit to others in the office? Do ‘greens’ lose energy looking to please people all the time, or worry about how long they have been walking the dog for on their lunch break? 

Embrace your style
Is there a winning colour at working from home? I don’t think so. The crucial element of this is figuring out the way you like to work from home; to excel you need to embrace your working style and understand how to best apply it to the new working model. As an industry we are moving towards a hybrid working environment, which will see teams transition between offices and homes. Because of this it’s vital to understand and set up rules that match your personality or working style. 

Battenhall has always had a flexible working structure, allowing team members of all personality types to work remotely, learning to do so in a way that suits them – consider it ‘unsuspected lockdown training’. Our ethos has always been that tech and environment should never slow you down from collaborating with team mates and producing award-winning work. 

So whether you’re red, green, yellow or blue, or a combination of colours, there is a huge opportunity to find an enhanced work-life balance from this ‘new normal’. But it’s down to you to unlock it.

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