8 Zoom fatigue signs and how to overcome them

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, 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 meetings, 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 platforms leave us feeling fatigued. It is a big issue that hasn’t been talked about enough, and we’re not the only ones facing it. 


Why do these Zoom calls make us tired?

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 why it happens, published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior.


1. Excessive close-up eye gaze

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. 

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.


2. Increased cognitive load 

With a 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 centre of the video frame, and you may have to communicate using exaggerated gestures like nods and thumbs up, at times.

3. Increased self evaluation and negative criticism of yourself

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 cited studies showing that we can be very critical and negatively evaluate ourselves on seeing our reflecting constantly. That can be very stressful and taxing for us since it is almost like someone is following you around with a constant mirror while we talk to people, make decisions or get/ give feedback.

4. Constraints on physical mobility

Of course, in-person meetings and voice calls give us the freedom to move around and be comfortable in our space. However, on Zoom calls, there is a space constraint and a constant pressure to be inside the field of view of the other people. This limits our movements and makes us uncomfortable.

“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.

Common Zoom fatigue symptoms

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. 

Here are some common symptoms of Zoom fatigue:

  1. Feeling drained between multiple calls
  2. Extreme tiredness towards the end of the day
  3. Lack of concentration during the meeting
  4. Excessive sweating and uneasiness during the call
  5. Headache or eye strains during or after the call
  6. Turning off your video or doing other things during the call
  7. Feeling the need to spend time alone after meetings
  8. Feeling behind and demotivated after the call

If you are feeling any of these things and think that it is because of Zoom fatigue, here are a few tips for you.

So, how do we combat Zoom Fatigue?


1. Work asynchronously

This has got to be the best way to avoid tireless meetings. Asynchronous work means working at your own pace instead of simultaneous work. It is the best way to have a clear communication with your team since everything is done in writing. 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 need for Zoom calls since everyone works at their own pace.


Some examples of asynchronous work includes asynchronous daily check-ins, written daily stand-ups, asynchronous task boards using tools like Ricotta.


2. Avoid scheduling back to back calls

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 calls is to include short breaks to take breaks 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.

3. Keep your video turned off by default if not necessary

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?

4. Stick to the meeting end time

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 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.


5. Don’t feel obligated to attend all the meetings

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 go 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.

Ricotta Trivia Trivia and Icebreakers on Slack


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 and use tools like Ricotta Trivia to play fun Trivia contests, games and icebreakers asynchronously. 

These tips might be hard to follow at first, but these can help you prevent feeling exhausted. Make your video calls minimal and easier!

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