Answer all the common questions - 1. What is Zoom fatigue and why does it happen? 2. How do I identify the common Zoom fatigue symptoms and 3. What is the best way to overcome Zoom fatigue?
With remote and hybrid work being popular after covid 19, Zoom meetings are taking over in-office meetings. These meetings can be long and super tiring for us, but who knew even online Zoom meetings can be so tedious? With so many people talking about feeling drained after Zoom video calls, these virtual interactions are not as easy as we once thought they are and a new term called ‘Zoom fatigue’ has been coined.
This, of course, makes us understand that meetings on Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, or other video conferencing platforms leave us feeling fatigued and we may need to improve productivity after these calls. It is a big issue that hasn’t been talked about enough, and we’re not the only ones facing it. In this article, we will talk about Zoom fatigue in detail — why these Zoom video calls make us so tired, the Symptoms of Zoom fatigue, and how to combat it.
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Zoom fatigue is simply that extreme tiredness and exhaustion that you may feel after a Zoom call. It can lead to mental fatigue and your body and mind may need rest after the call. Yes, Zoom fatigue is real.
Zoom fatigue has become so common in our day-to-day life, researchers from Stanford and other similar organizations have studied it's psychological impact.
Are you wondering "why do zoom calls make me tired?" You are not alone! Many remote and hybrid workers have complained about feeling overwhelmed and drained of energy after a long Zoom call. It’s not just us complaining about feeling depleted after a Zoom call, but we have actual science backing this up!
Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) has talked about the psychological effects of spending long hours on Zoom meetings. He talks about Zoom fatigue in detail and has underlined 4 major causes of why it happens, published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior. Here’s what they found:
With excessive eye gaze, there are two problems that arise - the large size of the faces on the screen and the amount of time spent making eye contact and staring at the screen. Excessive eye gaze typically means making eye contact with faces on the screen for too long.
While prolonged eye contact can increase social anxiety, the large size of the faces on screen can increase stress, and being on call for many hours can leave you in a hyper-aroused state.
With regular interaction, it is easy to interpret gestures and non-verbal cues naturally. However, that is not the case with Zoom calls since that makes it harder to communicate with gestures and non-verbal cues, thus increasing our cognitive load.
For example, in a video call, you have to make sure that your head is in the center of the video frame, and you may have to communicate using exaggerated gestures like nods and thumbs up, at times.
With video meetings, we are shown a mirror image of ourselves at all times. This can be very uncomfortable for us, since it can lead us to be more critical of ourselves.
Bailenson from Stanford University cited studies showing that we can be very critical and negatively evaluate ourselves on seeing our reflections constantly. That can be very stressful and taxing for us since it is almost like someone is following us around with a constant mirror while we talk to people, make decisions, or get/ give feedback.
Of course, in-person meetings and voice calls give us the freedom to move around and be comfortable in our space during remote work. However, on Zoom calls, there is a space constraint and constant pressure to be inside the field of view of other people. This limits our movements and makes us uncomfortable in real life.
“There are a number of studies showing that locomotion and other movements cause better performance in meetings. For example, people who are walking, even when it is indoors, come up with more creative ideas than people who are sitting” Bailenson said.
So you’ve just finished a long Zoom call and you’re feeling things that you don’t understand. These can be similar to burnout or extreme fatigue which may be confused with being distracted or unproductive.
Here are some common symptoms of Zoom fatigue:
It can be extremely difficult for many employees to jump into a productive mode of work right after a long Zoom video call. If you are feeling any of these things and think that it is because of Zoom fatigue, here is more information about its impact on introverts and extroverts.
Both personality types - introverts and extroverts get affected by Zoom fatigue. However, they get impacted differently.
Zoom video conferencing can be comforting for introverts in some sense since they don’t have to switch on their camera or talk constantly. They can also skip the in-person daily small talks and water cooler chats at work.
However, Zoom calls require more focus and may make them feel constantly watched. Moreover, meetings in larger groups may also add to the stress, especially if one prefers to meet one-on-one or in smaller groups.
To make things more bearable, introverts are recommended to keep their video switched off and opt for voice Zoom sessions or phone calls. The raise hand feature or chat may be used by introverts if they don’t get a chance to talk in a particularly large and chatty group.
On the other hand, extroverts may not find Zoom video calls as rewarding as introverts do. This is because extroverts like to be around crowds and crave interpersonal chats. With that craving for social interactions, extroverts may feel demotivated or unheard at work.
What would make these calls more rewarding is to make these calls more immersive and interactive in nature. Larger screens, louder audio and shared activities such as listening to music can help, says Dr. McIntyre from Wall Street Journal’s article about this topic.
Having some interactive team building activities via Zoom can also help extroverts feel empowered. Another great way to enjoy their Zoom sessions is to use Zoom virtual backgrounds that can increase stimuli.
Here is a video snippet showing us how Zoom fatigue impacts extroverts and introverts differently:
Zoom fatigue has become very common ever since the start of the pandemic. It is an issue that needs to be acknowledged for the sake of the mental health of individuals attending the meeting. In any case, you can follow certain basic practices that can help you avoid zoom fatigue.
Here are some tips that can help you combat Zoom fatigue during remote work.
This has got to be the best way to avoid tireless meetings. Asynchronous work means working at your own pace instead of simultaneous work with your coworkers. It is the best way to have clear communication with your team since everything is done on communication platforms like Slack, mostly via chat.
It is a great way for remote teams to work more effectively and works really well for stand-ups and check-in meetings. Furthermore, it reduces or shortens the time and the need for Zoom calls since everyone works at their own pace.
Back-to-back Zoom calls can be very tiring for us, especially if they go on for a long time. The best way to schedule video calls is to include short breaks to take time to recuperate and stretch or move around.
You can also establish ‘no meeting’ time blocks on your calendar so that your team can see when you’re busy or free. It is ideal to dedicate certain times during the day for meetings and some for productive deep work. This will also help you get more work done without feeling too tired.
For most of your calls, especially the ones that are not internal, you can avoid switching on the video by default unless it is crucial to the discussion. You can stick to voice calls, especially with people that you don’t know or don’t have to make an impression on.
If you have an internal Zoom call, especially a one-on-one, you can always ask the person to switch to a phone call instead so that you both can take a break from video calls.
And of course, we don't want a Trinny Woodall incident, do we?
More often, we tend to stretch our Zoom calls beyond the meeting end time. This is another reason why we tend to feel more fatigued than usual and find it hard to get back to work.
Sometimes, the best course of action is to stick to the meeting's end time. To make sure the meeting ends on time, you can send out a meeting agenda so that you don’t end up discussing things outside the agenda. While sometimes it may be hard to get off the call, you can always get off the call by excusing yourself to focus on your daily work.
There of course will be meetings that you can’t get out of, but there are some that you can choose not to attend. There can be a lot of pressure to attend all the meetings but you can always stay updated by watching recordings or going through meeting notes later.
For meetings that you absolutely need to attend, you can always turn your video off when you are not talking or presenting and choose to take a walk while being on the call. This can help you avoid the feeling of being constantly watched.
While there are multiple factors that can lead to the exhaustion you may feel at work, these little steps taken in the direction of self-care could surely make a huge difference, couldn’t they? These are the best ways to combat zoom fatigue. Try to apply these tips to your daily meeting schedule and share them with your coworkers!
It can be difficult to break the patterns of constant meetings and say no to joining certain meetings, however, a great first step is to identify the effects of Zoom video calls. It takes time to get through the day with constant meetings but slowly moving towards asynchronous work and prompting your coworkers to do the same can be helpful.
Of course, Zoom calls don’t always mean only work and no play. Remember to join your team in those fun virtual game sessions to feel recharged and bond with your team. If you would like to avoid Zoom calls altogether, you can always stick to Slack or Webex and use tools like Ricotta Trivia to play fun Trivia contests, games and icebreakers asynchronously and Ricotta Todos to manage your personal and team Todos in Slack.
These tips might be hard to follow at first, but these can help you prevent feeling exhausted. Make your video calls minimal and easier!
Zoom fatigue, as the name suggests, is a condition wherein one feels a sense of extreme tiredness after a Zoom session. Scientifically speaking, Professor Jeremy Bailenson, from Stanford University, has talked about the major psychological effects of spending long hours on Zoom calls.
To combat Zoom fatigue, employees should shift to asynchronous work, take frequent breaks in between meetings, not feel obligated to attend all Zoom meetings and keep their video switched off when not necessary.
To avoid Zoom fatigue, it is important to stick to the meeting end time and not be obligated to attend all the scheduled meetings. Employees should have designated hours for deep work and empty slots for meetings to avoid spending the entire day in meetings.
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