Do you feel tired after a Zoom call or virtual meeting? You are not alone; this phenomenon is characterized as “Zoom fatigue” and is a common, growing issue in the workplace.
But why do we get tired after Zoom meetings? And what can your team do to combat the effects of these virtual calls? The Harvard Business Review’s research offers some helpful hints in regard to navigating the new world of remote work and virtual meetings, while helping your employees thrive.
First, what is Zoom fatigue, and why does it happen?
Zoom fatigue is essentially the “exhaustion you feel after any kind of video call or conference.” The reason for this exhaustion, according to Krystal Jagoo, MSW, RSW, is due to the “increased cognitive demands of video conferencing communication.”
In other words, video meetings take more cognitive effort than in-person or non-video meetings. Next, we will discuss why Zoom/video meetings induce cognitive strain.
Examining the reasons people are fatigued after a video call not only helps us understand the phenomenon, but also how to fight it.
- Focus. When you are on a Zoom call, you are expected to focus for the entire time. In regular meetings, you can break gaze or have small side conversations. But this is not the case in a video conference — although there are a number of distractions to break the expected focus.
- Distractions. When you are on your computer during a video meeting, you might be tempted to do side work or browse the internet during the call. Or you might be distracted by your at-home environment, especially if you are living with others. As we know, multitasking in itself is fatigue-inducing.
- “Constant gaze.” When we are talking to people, we rarely stand close to them and stare at their face for an extended period of time. However, this is what we do during video calls. Not only are we staring at others, we are staring at ourselves.
- Analyzing Ourselves. It is also rare to stare at one’s own face during a conversation or an extended period of time. A symptom of this phenomenon is constantly analyzing what one looks like and how one is perceived. A common in-person stressor is amplified and extended by video feedback.
All of these aspects contribute to a certain feeling of fatigue after a video call. Knowing the factors, we can craft a strategy to reduce or avoid Zoom fatigue.
The methods of reducing Zoom fatigue are simply combatting the contributing factors of the phenomenon.
- Reduce multitasking. Multitasking can cause fatigue, reduce productivity by about 40%, and can contribute to reduced memory. So, try to stay focused on the call instead of trying to accomplish other work.
- Take breaks. Schedule time away from your computer. Even if your job requires all-day meetings, try to build in 5-10 windows in between by making standard 30- or 60-minute meetings shorter (i.e. 25 or 50 minutes).
- Use plain backgrounds or turn off video settings. Interestingly, a background can be a significant distractor to the brain. Try a team effort by making backgrounds as plain as possible; perhaps one poster in their background. Or, agree to turning off video cameras.
- Hide your self-view. Since viewing yourself can be a distraction, simply turn off your self-view. This can help turn your attention to the other person or people on screen, instead of yourself.
- Use phones (or email). Try using other methods of communication, such as phone calls or even email (the “this meeting could have been an email” concept can apply to Zoom calls, too). Just because these methods are “less high-tech” they are still effective and valuable communication methods.
- Avoid video calls with external clients. Although it might seem counterintuitive, try avoiding video calls with external people you do not know well. This helps reduce awkwardness and distraction along with the cognitive strains of video calling.
Now that you have some strategies, you and your team can start reducing Zoom fatigue.
These days, it is important to conserve one’s energy and cognition. Further, it is important to conserve talent and reduce possibilities for burnout as much as possible. Reducing Zoom fatigue is one way to help with both of these issues.
If you would like help implementing these, or any other team- and cognitive-building strategies, we would be happy to work with you. To get started, simply contact us at Boston Business Growth.