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Second UK lockdown sparks Zoom-phobia

As the nation enters second lockdown, new research reveals one in six UK workers is uncomfortable taking part in online video calls.

Despite the widespread adoption of video communications tools since the outbreak of Covid-19, it seems many of us are still unsettled when we see ourselves on screen, and dislike being in a virtual roomful of people staring at our faces – which could be impacting on the effectiveness of work communications.

The nationwide poll of 2,000 British workers, commissioned by Feel Good Contacts and conducted by OnePoll, also reveals that 42% of workers are living in fear of making mistakes at work.

Almost a fifth of respondents said they would be too nervous to ask for extra support with a heavy workload and just under a sixth of working adults would be too anxious to seek help with a difficult task. Almost one fifth said that in the current climate, they would dread facing their boss in a performance review, and over one sixth said that they would be too afraid to ask for a pay rise.

Acacia Johnson, Human Resources Advisor at Feel Good Contacts comments: “With job losses on the increase, even the most productive workers do not feel immune.

“Understandably, feelings of self-doubt plague employees: ‘I'm going to fail. I can't work this out. I'm not up to the job. Everyone's going to see me screw up. It's only a matter of time before…' are just some of the thoughts going through the minds of anxious staff.  With this attitude, some people are working extra hard to deliver over and above what is expected of them to keep their job safe. Others are keeping their heads under the parapet; they don’t want to be noticed, voice their opinions and get the blame if anything goes wrong.”

Business psychologist Jan P. De Jonge at People Business Psychology Ltd says employers should avoid creating a culture of online presenteeism.

“An ‘always on’ approach won’t help you to perform any better in your job in the long run,” he warns. “If you’re checking your emails 24/7 to stay ahead of the game, you won’t be coming to work feeling fresh and raring to start the day, plus you will always be distracted.”

“In fact, studies have found that people who were allowed to check their Inbox only three times a day had lower levels of stress compared to those who were allowed unlimited access to email.”

Another stress plaguing British workers as we head back into the home office is broadband reliability and speed.

A study by digital learning platform Preply that examined technological infrastructure and accessibility in 30 countries found broadband speed in the UK is 67.2 Mbit/s, less than half the speed in the US.

On a more positive note, if you are planning to use lockdown as an opportunity to upskill, the UK is one of the best places in the world to do so, with more than 4,200 distance learning courses on offer – providing, of course, you can get your broadband working.   

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