After the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, telework grew by over 50%. With the increase of virtual meetings, there has also been the rise of what is loosely known as “Zoom fatigue.”
Along with this rise in remote work, virtual meetings have become the new normal. Working from home or virtual offices can be lonely but with the amazing video call platforms available, we can chat with our colleagues easily and conveniently. But can there be too much of a good thing?Zoom fatigue is not limited to just Zoom but applies to any virtual meeting platform such as Whereby, Google Meet, Bluejeans, Skype, Microsoft Teams etc.
It is a term used to describe the anxiety, tiredness, or worry experienced from the overuse of virtual platforms.
Are Virtual Meetings more tiring?
Actually, yes they are. Video calling requires more mental presence than a simple chat on the phone, and as our main way of interacting now, it can often be overused. In a regular meeting, you don’t stare at your image constantly and have the pressure of feeling ‘on stage’.
Video calls often tend to go longer than in-person meetings as well, which not only attributes to a feeling of tiredness but also tempts us into more multitasking or performing simultaneous work. Often we hold virtual meetings from the same location and hold ourselves physically in the same position for extended periods–we can’t move around in our chair or even doodle, because we have to maintain eye contact and focus.
Technical issues also aid in a sensation of weariness and stress as delays in response can lend an air of uncertainty or negativity as we try to interpret our colleague’s meaning. Add all of these factors together and it is easy to understand why Zoom Fatigue happens.
Best practices to avoid Zoom Fatigue
The use of virtual meeting tools such as Zoom is here to stay, but with a few best practices we can ensure we avoid fatigue and keep on our A game.
Make Each Call Count
It is easy to just hop on a quick video call to chat with our colleagues, but is it always necessary? Some things are actually better expressed in a quick text or phone chat. Saving video calls for items that truly require it can help reduce fatigue, and increase the impact and productivity of our virtual meetings
Hide Self View
It’s hard to relax and speak normally when we are constantly seeing our image on a screen. Hiding self view during video calling can help us feel more at ease and less stressed, helping us to communicate more effectively.
Have an Agenda and Stick to it
Virtual meetings can sometimes drag on unnecessarily. Having a definitive agenda before you get on a call can help you stay focused and save time and energy.
Sitting in front of our workspace during a virtual meeting can easily tempt us to continue working. As a result we end up working twice as much and become just that much more tired. Try to just focus on the meeting at hand and leave additional work for another time will help us avoid burnout and fatigue throughout the day.
Change it Up
Often we hold virtual meetings from the same location, with our bodies in the same position for proper camera angles etc. Try changing locations or positions during your next call. Going to a different room or standing while you hold your meeting are simple tricks that can help break the monotony.
Mute is your Friend
Technical issues get old quickly and can cause our stress levels to skyrocket. With the delays that often occur during virtual meetings, it is easy for people to start speaking simultaneously. A simple fix is to always have everyone mute their microphones until it is their designated time to speak. This will help keep meetings smooth, and lessen the amount of frustration felt should technical issues arise.
Give Yourself a Break
Scheduling screen-free breaks and times throughout the day is immensely refreshing. Our brains need time to rest from the input of being in front of a screen, and by periodically pausing and having designated screen-free times, we will be less tired and able to give more when we need to.
In this age of social distancing, we have an increased amount of screen time as it is our main source of communication with family and friends. As a result, Zoom Fatigue is a real thing and can easily make us feel burned out. Luckily, with these best practices, we can lessen or avoid it entirely.