Thanks to COVID-19, more people are working from home. This has resulted in an increase of virtual meetings, using tools such as Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts.
Technology has been great in allowing us to stay connected. It allows us to communicate with customers, employees, employers and colleagues. The benefits of this include more flexibility and less commuting to and from work. But we’ve been hearing more about video conferencing fatigue – also known as Zoom fatigue.
So what exactly is Zoom fatigue? Why does it happen and what are some tools to combat it? Read on to find out!
What is Zoom fatigue?
Zoom fatigue is the mental exhaustion arising from video conferencing. It can occur even if we attended a virtual meeting without talking.
Why do we get Zoom fatigue?
We need to focus more in video conferencing meetings than we do when meeting face-to-face. There are a few reasons for this, including:
We have to work harder to process non-verbal cues. Processing non-verbal cues like tone of voice and body language is easier in real life. In video meetings, we only see from the shoulders/chest upwards. This eliminates us from viewing hand gestures and other body language. Also, if the quality of video or audio is poor, that affects our ability to process non-verbal cues. Having many people on the conference call also affects this even further. Additionally, we are unable to gauge a person’s energy through video conferencing. All this consumes a lot of our energy.
Silence on video conferencing calls tends to increase our anxiety about technology. It makes our brains ask “is this silence deliberate or is it a failure in technology?”
Technical issues can lengthen a meeting. It might be poor wi-fi, frozen screens, audio issues or software crashes. This isn’t something that occurs with face-to-face meetings. Not knowing how to fix technical issues can add to one’s stress. It’s also distracting.
Most people are very conscious about other meeting attendees watching us on video. Keeping up appearances is important on video as it is face-to-face.
A social or family virtual catch-up can still feel like a work meeting for some. This is because many people have used video conferencing for work more.
How to manage Zoom fatigue
There’s a lot of uncertainty around when restrictions will ease. This makes it very important to learn how to manage Zoom fatigue to help you cope.
Here are some ideas on how to overcome video conferencing fatigue:
Limit video conferencing to meetings that are necessary to be via video. Are they the most efficient option? If the meeting can be via telephone or online chat, then use those options instead. This allows you to go for a walk whilst on the phone. Walking can improve creativity and reduce stress. And it’s good for your health! There are online tools such as Slack that allow teams to chat online.
Make turning on the webcam optional. Turning off your video camera can be good in certain circumstances. This is particularly so if you’re feeling self-conscious or overstimulated. This allows you to save your energy for when you need to perceive the few non-verbal cues that come through.
Take time to catch up before discussing business. This allows the “are you okay?” question and it also allows people to re-connect.
If you’ve got more than one Zoom meeting scheduled, have a break between meetings. This allows you to refresh by having a refreshment, snack, stretch or a quick walk.
During shutdown, use Zoom for positive events like birthdays and social drinks. This can help change the negative connotation and fatigue often associated with Zoom.
Get in touch if you need advice on how to best manage employees during restrictions and beyond. Email me at email@example.com.