Call it Zoom fatigue or Zoom burnout, the new epidemic that is spreading like a curse during the current pandemic is affecting millions of people worldwide. We look into the wider affects of it and show you ways to avoid or deal with it, because let’s face it, we’ve all got enough to be dealing with right now.
Online meetings rose by 270% during the past year. No surprise, that Zoom and Microsoft Teams have seen a vast rise in subscribers through the pandemic. Did either company think of the affects of too much online video calling though?
In the same way that boardroom meetings zapped our time to work effectively and meet deadlines, endless Zoom calls eat our productive time up, but the physical and mental toll is far more exhausting.
Why is talking on a Zoom so fatiguing?
Twenty faces looking at you, focusing hard to hear and work out who is speaking. Then trying to work out body language and truthful reactions from people who are all attempting to sit up perfectly and appear engaged. Yes it’s exhausting. Very often we spend our energy on these elements as opposed to sorting out the problem at hand.
If people are working whilst home schooling the ability to focus on two things at once is also being tested. If we’re worrying about keeping up appearances with pets, deliveries, children and housemates all running around behind us, it makes the call even more stressful.
Dealing with sensitive issues via a Zoom? The worry of being overheard with limited space for privacy during lockdown is a real concern too.
For many it’s the sustained eye contact. For people with any kind of learning disability, the meeting of eyes is tricky enough let alone via a camera with multiple people all at once. It’s difficult to read people’s reactions and body language in the same way as it is face to face. Even when someone is on a regular handset call, it seems more relaxed.
Many people do not rehydrate during a zoom, finding it rude to eat or drink whilst online. The pressure to sit perfectly and create a ‘switched on’ appearance can add to the physical exhaustion.
Here’s how to shake things up for effective Zoom meetings:
- If you’re in a regulated role and have to have witnesses to your working day, fear naught. There are some things that you can do to help out your mental state and your posture.
- Instal ‘flux’ on your computer. It alters the blue light settings in your screen so your eyes get less tired. You can also place the app on your phone and tablet device too and it will alter the blue light to a warmer one depending on when you tell the app what time you usually go to sleep. This can help your winding down session before bed if you really can’t put our phone away a good few hours beforehand.
- Even if the camera is off and it’s audio only, sitting for hours on end is not good. Could an electronic sit-stand desk be the way forwards to mix up your body position during the day? I’ve tried one out this year and find that I stand for my Zoom’s and am far more engaged, then I sit down to work. There are even cycle desks to keep you moving whilst you’re working so take some time and have a browse at a totally different type of solution to put you in a positive mood and ensure your wellbeing during the meetings.
- Schedule your Zoom meetings for the afternoon and ensure that you get your creative tasks signed off before the meetings begin. This is good meeting practice regardless of the issue of online fatigue.
- Turn off the video. So simple, yet people don’t feel that they can ask for this. The pressure to look and sit in a perfectly controlled way is what’s breaking people. And it’s completely unnatural.
- Make your team’s health and safety officer aware of your Zoom fatigue issue. Chances are high that if you’re feeling it, someone else will be too. It’s something that all companies using online video calling facilities needs to be aware of and do their best to counteract.
- Have the solutions before the meeting to reduce time online. If an email has gone around or a task created surrounding a specific issue then the meeting should be to discuss solutions moving forwards. That way it’s proactive for everyone attending and shorter. All attendees should join the meeting with three thoughts to share to solve a problem or to push the company forwards. This way zoom meetings can be scheduled into the diary.
- Agree on a time frame for the meeting and ensure it’s not longer than 40 minutes. An average adult’s attention span is 45 minutes and when under stressful times this falls lower, even half or a quarter of the original time. Read our article on effective meeting strategy here.
- Manager’s of meetings need to stress check the point that movement needs to be made. Stand up, twirl around and carry on if need be, you get the point … just take action in some way. Lockdown is not due to be over for a while and many people will be asked to continue working from home to reduce office rents so this issue is not going to go away. Combatting it is the only way forwards.