Combating Zoom fatigue

25th Oct 2020

What changes can you make to improve the way you feel at work and why you’re not alone when you feel drained after a day of Zoom, Skype or Teams.

Zoom

Video conferencing has been a key player supporting us to work from home, but research shows it wears out our minds in complicated ways.

Yes, Zoom fatigue is a thing – it refers to the mental exhaustion that comes with online video conferencing.

Prior to March this year, video conferencing was something that happened a lot less. Its sudden appearance in daily work life means you’ve had to adjust to it almost instantly, without having time to think about its side effects.

Research shows that video conferencing results in working harder to process non-verbal cues like; facial expressions, body language and the tones of people’s voices.

Add in your screen freezing, weird echoes, the distractions of emails, dozens of heads staring at you and the constant picture of yourself – it adds up and affects you in more ways than you think.

With many of us not returning to the office for the foreseeable future, it’s important we look into how you can combat Zoom fatigue to make video conferences less of a strain.

Reduce your time on Zoom

Easier said than done, but research shows that limiting the number of Zoom calls you do will help you stay focused and energized at work.

Creating ‘no meetings’ or ‘do not book’ blocks in your calendar can be an effective way to do this.

Another way to approach the meeting-reduction method is to set aside half of your day for meetings and the other half for work – or simply have a meeting-free day.

Not all meetings have to be an hour long. You can reduce the amount of time you spend on Zoom by scheduling shorter meetings. Try 30 minutes as your default. Spending more time writing up documents, emails or recording videos will help you keep meeting times down.

Say no to meetings that aren’t valuable to you

Challenge yourself to say no. This could be for projects where it’s too soon for you to be involved, meetings with people who haven’t taken time to prepare or meeting that just aren’t relevant.

If you have trouble saying no to meetings, A low-conflict approach is asking the meeting requester to send over a document explaining what they want to discuss. This gives you have the information you need to determine whether the meeting is actually worth your time, and in most cases, you’ll be able to respond and say no.

Turn off your camera or hide ‘self-view’

If you’re not feeling it, don’t turn it on. Turning on your camera when you’re not feeling confident will result in a lack of concentration and a high output of energy worrying about yourself.

If you feel like it’s expected to have your camera on, speak to the meeting host before the meeting and let them know you won’t be turning it on – we’re all human at the end of the day.  

If your camera is on, having your screen off to the side instead of straight ahead will help your concentration, particularly in group meetings.

It will prevent you from looking at yourself, feeling self-conscious or getting distracted by what’s going on in your camera window. This small change will help keep you focused on what’s going on in the meeting.

If you’re hosting a video conference, having cameras on should always be optional.

Use other communication channels  

Now that Zoom and other video conferencing tools are a significant part in your day to day life at work, try and use other forms of communication when you can – including picking up the phone.

Picking up the phone means you aren’t having to pick up non-verbal language or worry about what we look like in the camera – plus walking around can help you think.

Tools could include the following:

  • Project management platforms
  • Shared documents to leave feedback
  • Video recording software
  • Emails
  • Landlines

Conclusion

Video conferencing isn't going away anytime soon.   

It’s important that we are aware of the impact it has on us and recognises the changes we can make to help manage our video conference meetings more effectively.

For more information about Zoom fatigue visit: https://peoplemanagingpeople.com/general/facts-remote-work-mental-health/