In today’s remote work environment, Zoom and similar platforms have become indispensable tools. They’ve allowed teams to maintain a semblance of normalcy amid the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Since COVID, many are still working remotely and are continuing to use Zoom and other programs for meetings. Plus, we often use online platforms to connect with family and friends. The near-constant use of these tools has introduced a new challenge for remote workers: Zoom fatigue.

zoom Fatigue

What is Zoom Fatigue or Overload?

Zoom fatigue refers to the exhaustion and strain that comes from participating in too many video conferences. While the term specifically mentions Zoom, it applies broadly to any digital platform that supports video interactions. The term “Zooming” is a generic verb to replace videoconferencing. This phenomenon has quickly become a common concern among remote workers worldwide.

Major Causes of Zoom Fatigue 

The sudden spike in video conferencing has brought to light several unexpected stressors specific to videoconferencing:

  1. Constant Self-View: Unlike in-person meetings, video chats often display a live image of ourselves during discussions. It is like having someone follow you around during an entire meeting with a mirror. This “mirroring” effect can exacerbate self-consciousness and drain energy, as Robin, a friend and fellow remote worker, shared. “It’s impossible not to scrutinize my appearance constantly, which I wouldn’t do in a physical meeting.”
  2. Reduced Mobility: The physical setup of a video call – typically at a desk and in front of a webcam – significantly limits our ability to move around. This restraint is contrary to the nature of in-person gatherings where you can move and stretch. The lack of movement contributes to a sense of confinement.
  3. Intense Eye Contact: Video calls demand more focused eye contact than face-to-face conversations. During an in-person meeting, people look at the speaker, their notes, etc. When on a videoconference, they look at everyone all the time. Others see every move we make. Even if you don’t say a word, people are looking at you. Eye contact is dramatically increased, and the close-up view of faces on the screen can feel unnervingly intense and lead to significant tiredness. 
  4. Higher Cognitive Load: Processing non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone, and body language requires more effort during video calls. This heightened demand on our cognitive resources can lead to quicker burnout.

How to Know if You Are Suffering from Zoom Fatigue

Consider the following questions to evaluate if you’re experiencing Zoom fatigue:

  • Are you exhausted after videoconferencing?
  • How irritated do your eyes feel after videoconferencing?
  • Are you emotionally drained post-videoconferencing?
  • How often do you feel too tired to engage in other activities after videoconferencing?

If you say “yes” to these questions, it might be time to acknowledge and address your Zoom fatigue and overload.

Ways to Avoid Zoom Fatigue

While Zoom and its equivalents might remain staples of remote work, there are strategies to minimize their draining effects:

  • Take Breaks: Integrate short breaks between video calls to reduce strain. Even a few minutes away from the screen can be rejuvenating.
  • Turn the Camera Off: When possible, participate in calls with your camera off to alleviate the pressure of constant self-viewing and intense eye contact. (Others won’t see you.)
  • Future Resources: For more extensive strategies to combat Zoom fatigue, check out our upcoming blog post next week, covering a dozen tips to help remote workers manage this Zoom fatigue.

The shift to a digital workspace has transformed how we interact, bringing both convenience and additional stressors. Recognizing and addressing the unique challenges of this transition, such as Zoom fatigue, is essential for maintaining our well-being in the remote work era.

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