As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take over everyday life, we have to work to accept the “new normal” that is going to come along with it. Virtual fatigue is something that we are all experiencing right now. I wake up and sit on my laptop all day. For work, class, and even happy hours. 

So What Are We Missing?

Going into an office, class, or meeting allows for social interaction that helps us be humans. Even running into someone in the hallway gives you a small break and that feeling of human connection. It can be exhausting to sit in front of a computer and live your social life strictly through a screen. 

How Can We Work to Benefit From The “New Normal”? 

As we work to cope with the way COVID-19 plays into our social, work, and school lives, here are some ways we can work to benefit from this “new normal”. 

School Environment: 

When it comes to school life, this pandemic is hard on both professors and students. We are used to those conversations that happen when you arrive to class 10 minutes early or the lively discussions in class. Drop into office hours to chat with your professor. They are people too and are also missing that social interaction. This is a great way to connect about the class and have some beneficial casual conversation. Use your camera during class. When we have class in-person, there is no hiding yourself, and you pick up on a lot of nonverbal cues from classmates. The easiest way to get close to this virtually is through using your camera. Using your camera can help you feel connected to your classmates and professors. 

Professional Development: 

The hard part is there are no in-person coffee talks, the classic networking tool. Luckily, these coffee talks can now be with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Social media is critical here. Use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to reach out to professionals in the area you are interested in. This could be by hashtags on Twitter or through a company search on LinkedIn. Send them a personalized message expressing your interest to get to know about their professional life and ask if they have time to chat for 15 minutes. Set a time limit, this helps ensure that they can still stay on their work schedule. One message can strike a conversation that might go a long way. 

Work Environment: 

One of my favorite parts of working in the office was running into a coworker when making my morning coffee or stepping into someone’s office on the way back from grabbing lunch. Although this is not the same right now, working from home does not mean working alone. Get on the call five minutes early. Catch up with your coworker on how their week has been, what they have been working on, and what their recent favorite hobby has been. Humanizing these kinds of experiences is so important when work relationships feel so distant. Turn your camera on. Nothing feels worse than sitting in a meeting staring at a blank screen all day. This is similar to what I mentioned earlier in the school environment section. Showing your face in meetings can help everyone feel like they are together, and it is more personal. 

We are here in this “new normal” for now. Embracing what good can come of it and working to get out of the virtual fatigue funk is essential. Although we are not in-person to connect, we can implement small actions like turning your camera on during meetings and reaching out via LinkedIn to grow connections.

About the Author:

Morgan Layne is a senior at Grand Valley State University. She is an Advertising and Public Relations major with an emphasis in Public Relations. Morgan is serving as the Vice President of Operations for GrandPR this semester. She also is the Communications Intern for the Grand Valley State University Advertising and Public Relations Program.

Twitter: @morgannlaynee