‘Zoom Fatigue’ is Real: Confront it & Avoid it!

Do you find yourself feeling unusually tired after a video meeting or after a day of remote work? More so than when you were in the office in person? What you may be experiencing, much like millions of people across the globe, is Zoom fatigue. Zoom fatigue, or Zoom burnout, is the newly emerging problem of being completely drained of energy and focus after a video conferencing call or a day of video calls. Zoom fatigue is not exclusive to Zoom, however it has grown in frequency during the “Zoom-boom” at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the drastic increase of work from home employees and corporate offices going remote, video conferencing is at an all time high. 

  There are a multitude of reasons why Zoom fatigue happens and they all boil down to increased stimuli. We are social beings that are built to have daily social interaction. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic there was a wave of encouragement to connect with others over apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and others. Many of us find ourselves now about eight months in and dreading the inevitable day of back to back video calls and emails requesting a “quick zoom call” followed by a link for “encouragement.” The number of meetings has not increased, but the energy that it takes to complete them has.

How to Minimize Zoom Fatigue

Picture this: you are back in a conference room full of your peers, each person is talking and interjecting at the appropriate time, Greg from sales is tapping his pen on the table, a bird flies by outside the window, Linda from accounting is speaking to the room, and your boss leans back in her chair, crosses her arms, and takes a deep breath. You think, “Yikes Linda must’ve said the wrong thing,” and you turn to Greg from sales to your right and whisper, “What did she just say?”

Minimize Distractions

While that conference room is filled with stimuli, your video conference is five times more distracting. In your conference room, you are able to take a look at the bird flying by out the window without risking seeming unengaged. On Zoom, we run the risk of seeming uninterested any moment that we take our eyes off of the camera. Maintaining constant eye contact with anyone is often unnatural and uncomfortable, but on Zoom, we are forced to consciously do it for the length of the meeting. Many people also spend the majority of a meeting looking at themselves because they are hyper aware of their appearance and surroundings on video. One way to solve these problems is to cover your view, so you are unable to see yourself (this function is available on most platforms). Another way to remedy this issue is to make it acceptable to be off camera during portions of a meeting. This allows for participants to take a break from screen time and regroup.

Reduce Visual Intake

On Zoom we are absorbing the stimuli of not only the room we are in, as we would in person, but we are absorbing the stimuli in every participant’s room, what their background looks like, what books are on their shelf, what kind of wall art is hanging up. This constant intake of environments can wear us out and distract us from the content of the meeting. One way to combat this is to utilize the neutral backgrounds that many of the video conferencing platforms offer as a digital overlay or find a room with a blank wall to conference from. With larger groups it could be beneficial to have only the speaker’s video on, this way the participants are focused on one view rather than all of them.

Stop Multitasking

Much of our fatigue comes from multitasking while in a meeting. Having all of your tabs and to-do lists lined up behind your meeting can be a tempting view. However, trying to multitask while listening to a meeting can detract from productivity and make you work slower and produce worse results. Try to minimize all of your tabs while in a meeting and put your notifications on silent, this way you decrease onscreen stimuli and can focus on the task at hand.

Last Call

Lastly, not everything needs to be spoken about on Zoom. While “hopping on a Zoom meeting” can be convenient for one person, it may not be ideal for another. Try to explore the option of relaying information through emails or phone calls. Oftentimes we can communicate the same message over the phone that we could through Zoom and we can reduce the risk of additional fatigue and distraction. Phone calls allow you to focus on the person’s voice with none of the distractions that come with their video feed. It is important to remember that we are all human, and it is okay to move a meeting from Zoom to the phone or to not feel pressured to make what used to be phone calls into Zoom calls. 

Get it on the Calendar

With the increase in remote work, employees are finding themselves working more and for longer hours because with technologies like Zoom, they are always available for a call. A key factor in avoiding Zoom fatigue is to set a schedule and stick to it. If you don’t work on a particular day or time, don’t take meetings at that time “because you can,” make sure you are giving yourself time to step away from the screen and reconnect. In today’s business world, making video conferencing calls is inevitable, but with some adjustments and understanding you can work more easily and efficiently. 

Reach out to a VForce expert today to learn more about how to create a healthy workplace and how to transition your team into a productive and happy remote workforce.