Fighting Zoom Fatigue in the Age of Video Calls

Zoom fatigue is a new term that many of us have experienced firsthand. As video calls and meetings are more prevalent than ever before, it is important to find ways to prevent video call fatigue – for you and your employees – as much as possible.

Have you found yourself more exhausted at the end of your workday than you used to be? You are not alone.

As many of us have grown accustomed to the “new normal” of working from home, you have likely joined (and scheduled) many virtual calls and meetings by now. Video calls help us stay connected in the workplace – but they can take a toll on productivity.

Zoom fatigue, as mentioned by Dr. Jena Lee and Psychiatric Times, is described as the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts. Like other experiences associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom fatigue is widely prevalent, intense, and completely new. At the end of 2019, 10 million people used video conferencing. By April 2020, that number skyrocketed to 300 million.

Video simply requires more mental processing than other interactions:

  • Your brain works harder.
  • You are always “on.”
  • You can be more easily distracted.
  • Your technology always seems to fail at the worst time.

Researchers like Dr. Fiona Kerr, founder and CEO of The NeuroTech Institute, have found eye contact and physical connection with another human increases dopamine and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. Her research shows you can even physically calm someone down by looking them in the eye. So as the world continues to work remotely, it is no surprise people are turning on video meetings twice as frequently than before many of us began working from home full-time. She also noted that Microsoft Teams video calls have grown by over 1,000% in 2020.

Whether it is a work or board meeting, happy hour, birthday celebration, or social event (or all the above), video calls and meetings are more common than ever before. And remote work seems to be here to stay. A recent survey showed that many Americans want to continue working remotely even after the pandemic is over. In fact, 29% said they would quit their jobs if they could not continue remote work.

So, it is important to find ways to prevent video call fatigue as much as possible. Here are a few ways you and your employees can alleviate its effects.

  1. Turn your self-view off

We are not used to staring at ourselves as we talk to other people and when we do, it creates a sense of anxiety – worrying about how we look, the lighting in the room, how we sound, etc. By turning off the setting that shows you your own video feed, you might be able to better engage with others in your meeting and decrease your feelings of stress or unease.

  1. Ask for phone calls rather than video calls where appropriate

When you are able, ask for a conference call or compile information into an email rather than a video call. This gives you and your employees a chance to avoid an unnecessary video call.

  1. Take breaks to stretch and stand

We all need a break every now and then. Back-to-back video calls do not allow you to refill your coffee or speak to someone in between meetings. Recognize that you need a break when working remotely. Try to make your meetings 25 or 50 minutes, instead of the full half hour or hour, to give everyone time to stand up, grab a snack or take that much needed bathroom break.

  1. Schedule safe face-to-face interactions, like seeing a friend outside and with appropriate distance

Being cooped up inside four walls all day, every day is not good for any of us. Suggest to employees to call a friend or a coworker and take a walk or a coffee break at the park. Fresh air can always do you a little good and clear your mind to be your best and do your best inside and outside of the workplace.

Using these tactics to fight video call fatigue will help employees maintain good mental health. They are an important addition to existing tactics that create a company culture prioritizing mental health, which can help increase productivity and employee happiness.

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