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Holiday parties and zoom fatigue, as workers still don’t want to go back in the office

Revisiting some work trends, Axios is reporting on the shift in holiday parties – a combination of small in-person gatherings and bigger virtual ones.          Of course, SAP SE is just giving workers $100 to expense holiday celebrations.  

Because Zoom fatigue might be because of out-of-sync brainwaves.   Julie Boland, Professor of Psychology and Linguistics, University of Michigan, presented research pointing to the transmission lag as the reason for strain.   The lag adds too much variability for brainwaves to sync with speech rates automatically, and thus the human brain needs to compensate.  

Of course, that fatigue doesn’t mean workers want to go back to the office.  Microsoft commissioned a study, and some 51% would quit if the current mix of remote and office work vanished.   59% of HR decision-makers agreed that “hybrid working has had a positive effect on the mental wellbeing of their workforce.”   It’s not all easy, of course.   42% reported they’ve struggled to form relationships with new colleagues, 33% reported a lack of direction from managers, 24% said they struggled to learn new software and applications, 23% failing to earn the confidence of colleagues, and 21% not feeling the company culture. 

This retention concern is still top of mind — Succession challenges and the ability to attract and retain top talent vaulted to the No. 2 ranking of business risks, up from No. 8 a year ago per a survey by Protiviti and NC State University.  

And Axios reports that the talent shortage is driving some of the M&A activity.  Buying a company for talent is a way to address worker shortages.  

Why do we care?

Tactically, every business owner has likely struggled with their holiday plans… which are part of that culture discussion.  Building ways for organizations to build relationships and earn that confidence needs to be deliberate and require new tactics.

It’s fascinating to me to track the science of remote work, similar to the Microsoft research last year on how humans are not used to seeing themselves on screen.  That often leads to specific changes to the use of the technology, which make forward improvements.      Understanding and tracking that research is required to address the work-from-anywhere opportunity beyond implementing technology.