Combat Zoom Fatigue
“Why don’t we schedule a Zoom for later today?” At this point, if you’re anything like most people, that question probably elicits an immediate sigh. If we look back to a year ago when most of us hadn’t even heard of Zoom, it’s amazing to think about how commonplace it has now become. But as Zoom and other virtual meetings have become the norm, a realization has become apparent – it’s exhausting! You were thinking it and we’ve said it: being on Zoom all day can be draining. Intuitively you would think that staring at your computer all day would be less tiring than talking to people and driving to meetings, but as time has gone on it has become apparent that this type of activity (or lack thereof) creates a different type of fatigue. The truth is, Zoom Fatigue (or Virtual Fatigue) is a real thing, and it can have many negative effects.
The first question that might come to mind is: why are virtual meetings so exhausting? Interestingly, it turns out that our brain actually has to work harder to effectively communicate through a virtual medium1. We may not be consciously aware of it, but it’s more difficult for our minds to decode verbal cues and effectively engage in eye contact through a computer screen. Not to mention, this is almost always coupled with technical hiccups that accompany any virtual interaction, which is a further strain on communicating. The net result is that we’re working much harder to get our points across than in a face-to-face conversation.
In addition to the cognitive aspects of communicating through a monitor, there are also many aspects of at-home work that contribute to Zoom Fatigue. One thing I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about is something we’ll call the ‘COVID 15’, or a blunter way of putting it: we’ve all put on weight. Studies have shown that communicating via our computers has made us overall a lot less mobile during the workday. Because we usually have to face a camera, we can’t even move from a seated position, sometimes for hours a day during Zoom meetings.2 This lack of mobility, and corresponding weight gain, increase our baseline lethargy.
Signs of Zoom Fatigue
How do you know if what you’re experiencing is Zoom Fatigue and not something else? It can be hard to tell because Zoom Fatigue feels very similar to normal fatigue or burnout. The question we have to identify is when we feel this fatigue. At Stanford University, they have developed a scale to identify if an employee or student etc. can attribute their fatigue to virtual meetings or to something else.3
Typical Questions on The Test Include:
· How exhausted to you feel after videoconferencing?
· How much do you tend to avoid social situations after videoconferencing?
· How emotionally drained do you feel after videoconferencing?
If the answer to those or similar questions is ‘very’ or ‘a lot’ what you’re probably experiencing is Zoom Fatigue.
It’s completely undeniable that virtual communication tools such as Zoom have been extremely important and beneficial over the last year. But as with many good things, there is often a cost. Zoom Fatigue is a real phenomenon, and it can contribute to more general fatigue and overall burnout. Luckily there are methods that can combat Zoom Fatigue and mitigate its effects. We’ll look at these tips as well as alternative technologies you can use to help alleviate the now ubiquitous Zoom Fatigue.
Here are 6 effective tips to help when having a video call.