How to combat Zoom fatigue

Submitted by Dawn on 23rd August 2021

Combat Zoom fatigue, screen, video conferencing, business, HR, mental health, wellbeing

Did you know? In the space of 12 months, Zoom’s income increased by $206 million. That gives you some idea of the role that remote meeting technology now plays in our lives.

Do you find endless Zoom meetings exhausting? Just as important - do your colleagues and employees find them exhausting? But what is it that makes these remote meetings so energy-sapping? In this article, we’ll look at why they can affect us so badly and how we can deal with it.

A recent study revealed that nearly 50% of workers using this kind of technology suffer from video conferencing fatigue. 

What causes Zoom fatigue?

Studies have shown that there are several possible causes - 

1. Seeing your own face during video calls. Professor Jeremy Bailenson of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, has studied the phenomenon. He likens this to continually having a mirror held up near your face in every in-person interaction during an ordinary day in the workplace. According to Bailenson, being more critical of yourself is a common negative emotional consequence of being faced with your reflection.

2. Video calls demand a higher ‘cognitive load’ compared with normal in-person interactions. We need to work harder on video calls to send and receive signals. A face-to-face, physical conversation involves natural cues and gestures that we make and interpret subconsciously. However, video calls force us to consciously make exaggerated gestures and signals. This demands much more thought.

3. It’s not just screen-time at work that tires people out. During lockdown, many of us have spent time socialising with friends and family on video conferencing apps. We’ve also been spending more time watching TV. In addition to Zoom fatigue, we strain our eyes and our brains by spending so many of our waking hours in front of a screen of one kind or another.

What can we do to overcome Zoom fatigue?

There are several steps we can take to overcome Zoom fatigue. With video conferencing set to play such a major role in business life, employers need to be aware of the dangers and need to have a strategy in place to deal with them.

Review the volume of video calls that your people make on a daily or weekly basis. Are they all necessary?

Encourage your employees to turn off their cameras during calls if it makes them feel more comfortable. Alternatively, they can try minimising or hiding the conferencing screen entirely. This enables them to participate in the audible conversation without having to process what’s happening visually.

Allow people to dial into calls on their phones - joining in as an audio-only participant. This gives them back the mobility that video conferencing has taken from us. When we’re sat in front of the screen, we’re restricted from being able to move freely we might naturally do during a phone or in-person conversation. These movements can help us to relax or become more engaged in the conversation.

Remind your employees to take regular breaks from their computer screens. This breaks up the working day and gives their eyes and minds a rest from the demands of being part of the virtual workforce.

Spotting signs of stress caused by Zoom fatigue

Your employees face numerous challenges when working remotely from home. Zoom fatigue is just one example. The lines between work and home life can become easily blurred. It’s important to know how to spot the signs of stress and burnout early – taking a preventative approach rather than a reactive one.

Common signals of increased stress include 

- lack of motivation

- being more withdrawn than usual

- a change in body language

- apparent distraction on video calls

- a change in the normal tone of voice.

When thinking about our own mental condition and well-being, we should look out for

- changes in appetite

- staying in bed longer

- worrying

- dwelling on negative thoughts

- experiencing heightened emotions such as irritability, anxiety or sadness.

Specialist HR advice

Looking out for the dangers and signs of Zoom fatigue should be part of every company’s wellbeing strategy. To find out more about looking after the mental welfare of your employees – keeping them both happy and productive, talk to us. We’re always here to help.

For straight-talking HR advice - 01604 763494

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