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Zoom Fatigue is Real

Zoom Fatigue is Real

Zoom Fatigue is real. It’s the exhaustion you feel after hours and hours spent on video calls. The term is relatively new and has been experienced at higher rates recently due to COVID-19 forcing many employees to work from home and attend meetings remotely.

Even though it’s called “Zoom” Fatigue, it refers to any kind of video conference calling situation. Now that you know what it’s called, you may wonder why it occurs and why it seems so much more taxing on your energy than in-person meetings of the not-so-distant past.

Why does Zoom Fatigue happen?

When we’re on a video conference call versus an in-person meeting, our brains have to work harder to make sense of what’s going on. We can’t rely on all of our senses picking up on the additional details they normally would, like the smell of the room or other peripheral details. When we can only engage a few of our senses like sight and hearing for a long period time such as an hour long video call, this can put a strain on the focus of those senses. This can force our minds to “mental shortcuts,” such as assuming what your colleague is going to say next and thus tuning out what they actually say, which often result in us making mistakes which can translate into our work even after the call is finished.

Emotionally, video calls can take their toll as well. Some studies found that people had heightened anxiety around seeing their own face on screen while they talked to someone else, making them feel self-conscious and distracted. Others felt it harder to trust the intentions of the person on the other end of the call, due to things like an inability to read full body language and potential glitches interfering with real time reaction. Those issues made people hyper-cautious in their communication and thus more exhausted by worrying about how they were perceived over video.

How can you combat Zoom Fatigue?

With video conference calls becoming more of a staple in the modern business model, we need to figure out an effective strategy to take care of our mental and emotional health (just as we’re taking care of our physical health by social distancing) as we continue to work from home. Here are five tips you can try next time you log into your call:

Take Breaks: When it comes to working in general, it’s important to allow yourself breaks. We recommend sending a meeting agenda ahead of time with pre-scheduled breaks, especially if you anticipate the call will last longer than an hour.

Avoid Multitasking: Multitasking “is, in fact, a lie that actually wastes time, energy and money.” – Chuck Norris – Actor and Martial Artist. Consider shutting off some of your computer monitors if you have more than one or putting your phone face down so you don’t see text notifications.

Use Speaker View: Many video conferencing systems have a feature known as “speaker view” (versus gallery view) and can help you focus on the person that’s speaking and reduce the distractions of the other people on the call. It can also help you better connect with the speaker, eliminating some of that social anxiety some studies found people to be experiencing. There’s also another setting in which you can keep your own camera on so others can see you but hide it from your screen, so you aren’t distracted by looking at yourself.

Shut Your Cameras Off: Like with using speaker view, this method can help you eliminate some of that self-conscious exhaustion when it comes to seeing your own face and actions as you meet with someone else. We recommend that if you are the host, mentioning whether or not you will be using video during the call or just voice and giving others the option to choose what they’d like to do. You could say something like “I will have my video on but if you feel more comfortable with your camera turned off please feel free to do so.” By making those expectations clear, you can help reduce some of the anxiety your colleagues may have about video meetings.

Try to Reduce the Amount of Calls: When in doubt, just stop. Well, stop as much as you can. There will always be meetings that could’ve been emails, and in order to save everyone some much needed energy in the midst of an already stressful situation (working from home in the midst of a pandemic), take a step back and consider whether you really need a meeting or whether you can just send out a nice email and wish your employees well in their remote working routines.

 

By Taylor J. Bye, Customer Engagement Specialist