Ever since Covid-19 forced the world into quarantine in 2019, people have been working remotely from their homes. Work from home inevitably entails countless Zoom meetings throughout the day, resulting in something now called “Zoom Fatigue”.
Even though the phrase is self-explanatory, let’s take a look at how it has been defined. Tammy Allen, a professor of industrial-organized psychology, says it refers to a sense of feeling drained after a whole day of numerous video meetings. Of course, the “Zoom Fatigue” phenomenon is not limited to Zoom, a video conferencing platform that recently evolved into a noun because of its widespread use. The fatigue can be from meetings held on any virtual conferencing platform: Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet. If you spend a lot of working hours on any of these platforms, your energy will definitely be drained.
According to a study by Jeremy Bailenson published in Technology, Mind, and Behavior, there are several reasons for video conferencing leading to exhaustion. These are: the consistent eye contact; the additional stress of trying to connect with the other person without using many of the non-verbal cues we unconsciously use in-person and attempting to understand body language through a screen; staring at yourself for long periods, and lack of movement.
Some Ways to Deal with Zoom Fatigue –
Don’t fret, though. There are many ways to prevent Zoom fatigue from getting you down. Since remote work seems to be here to stay, you might also look at some strategies that should help you deal with it.
1. Don’t Look at Yourself
We are not used to looking at our own faces while chatting or presenting at a meeting. It naturally makes us feel very self-conscious and may cause anxiety. Also, managing expectations regarding our appearances would definitely reduce brain fatigue. Change the settings of your video conferencing platform so that you won’t be visible to yourself.
Attempting to maintain eye contact with so many people for long periods of time is also taxing for our brains, not to mention physically straining our eyes. Instead, focus on simply looking straight at the camera while presenting.
2. Try to Get Done with Zoom Meetings Early
Research indicates that people who had virtual meetings later in the day felt more exhausted. So it could be a good idea to get those meetings out of the way earlier in the day. Of course, this would require some mediation with the company and your co-workers, but they will probably get on board as they would be dealing with Zoom fatigue as well!
3. Use the Mute Option
It is a common joke that half of all meetings are spent in trying to ascertain if one is audible or not or pointing out to the presenter that they are on mute. Jokes aside, putting yourself on mute is actually an excellent idea as working from home can feel like an invasion of privacy. You are constantly stressed that some family member would suddenly enter your room and say something inappropriate or embarrassing. Muting yourself is a good measure to reduce that stress and take back some of the privacy that you are losing while video conferencing from your home.
4. Avoid Video
Every meeting doesn’t need to be over video. You can keep your video turned off while in a meeting by clearing it beforehand with your boss or supervisor. This will reduce a lot of stress as you can be comfortable while in the meeting and actually focus on what is being said instead of worrying about your appearance or the state of your room.
5. Take Breaks
Taking breaks at your workplace has been proven to be useful for your health and productivity. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that you don’t need breaks. You can turn off your video and mute your mic during a meeting to stand up and stretch or take a few lunges on the spot. Physical movement helps distress and refresh the mind. If you have time in between meetings, go out for a brisk walk.
6. Connect with your Co-workers
Working at the office together builds camaraderie, which helps keep you motivated and in good spirits throughout the day. Now that we are working from home, we might feel disconnected from our colleagues as there are no coffee or lunch breaks to spend time together. The solution is to keep in touch with your colleagues during work hours. Drop them a message or share some memes. It will cheer you up, and you might make a new best friend!
Now that we have given you some useful ways to combat the dreaded Zoom fatigue, try them out on different days and observe the results. If you start feeling less drained after a hard day of work, you will know it’s working!