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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We're approaching six months of telework — and, for many Americans, that means six months of Zoom, Google Meet, Facetime, text messages and actual "phone calls" (remember those?).

Why it matters: The incessant video-conferencing is tiring CEOs and college students alike.

The big picture: I spoke with Marissa Shuffler Porter, a work psychologist at Clemson University, about strategies to make all those meetings suck a little less. "Any time that you’re going to have a Zoom meeting, it's important to know in advance what's okay and what's not," she says.

  • If it's the constant pressure to be on camera that's stressing workers out, companies could create a camera-off culture after introductions, or only ask speakers to show their faces.
  • People should also think through exactly how long video calls need to be — and they shouldn't shy away from scheduling 15-minute meetings. "We default to scheduling hourlong meetings, and then suddenly you’re in eight hourlong meetings in a day," says Porter.
  • Still, it's important to spend some time in meetings talking about non-work things. "Get rid of the 'Let’s get this over with' attitude," Porter tells Axios.
    • Many employees are craving workplace social interaction or working on projects with new hires they've never met in person. "Talking about something non-work-related goes a long way to build trust," she says.

The bottom line: "People always go to video-conferencing, and we need to not do that," Porter says. "We’ve jumped to it, and we’re really burning people out on it."

  • Before you send that Zoom invite, think, "Could this be a phone call?" Or even better: an email.

Go deeper

Dec 16, 2020 - Economy & Business

A year of monumental change in the workplace

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In less than a year, the pandemic shot us more than a decade ahead in the workplace transformation.

The big picture: The pandemic's acceleration of telecommuting has changed much more than the way we attend meetings. We'll see lasting impacts on company culture, the job market, demographics and cities.

Updated 12 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.