How to Combat Zoom Fatigue
Why sitting in front of a camera makes you more tired than you’d expect – and how to combat this.
Zoom Fatigue: What is it?
Since March, you haven’t had to get “properly” dressed, stand on a crowded bus, get stuck in traffic, wait in line for your lunch order, or make small talk with colleagues. Indeed, since these global lockdowns were put into place, you’ve been working comfortably from home – and yet you’re finding yourself completely exhausted at the end of each workday, even more so than before you were told to stay at home.
This is what’s now recognized, worldwide, as “Zoom Fatigue.”
Speexx is an international company; we’ve been doing cross-border, cross-cultural video calls for years, so we’d like to think we know a thing or two about how to beat Zoom Fatigue. Read on for our tips and tricks.
What causes Zoom Fatigue?
You’re using Zoom for business meetings, family reunions and happy hours with friends. Some of you are even using it for socially distanced birthday parties and weddings.
With literally all of our social actions – outside of the nuclear family – in one place, it should come as no surprise that we’re sick of a specific interface or tool. This just gets old.
Additionally, video communication means we have to work harder to process non-verbal cues. Our brains are more attentive than usual, scanning for facial expressions, listening for tone and pitch of voice, and observing body language. This consumes more energy than you’d think, and this dissonance between mind and body is unnatural.
Seeing ourselves on camera can also make us feel anxious. When we’re too aware we’re being watched, we get stage fright. We start overthinking how we look, what we say, how messy our surroundings may be and what our coworkers are thinking about the state of our homes. This, too, is energy-draining.
Not to mention the possibility of screens freezing, sounds echoing, and a bunch of floating heads staring at you.
Simply put – this is tiring because it’s not natural!
How you can reduce Zoom Fatigue
Here are some tips that we’ve found work for us at Speexx.
1. Avoid looking at yourself
As we already mentioned, seeing yourself observed by others, watching yourself speak and gesticulate during important meetings can be as cringe-inducing as watching a video of yourself. A lot of us don’t like it.
An easy solve? Block the self-view feature.
But if closing the self-view isn’t possible on the platform you’re using, you can cover it by taping a piece of paper or post-it note.
You might consider turning off cameras from time to time, though we generally recommend people leave them on, to be able to see one another and better foster communication – though you don’t necessarily need to see yourself, and that is understandable.
2. Take frequent breaks
The way you would at your normal office, be sure to carve in transition periods between meetings, even video meetings. Breaks are proven to refresh us – try getting up and walking around a bit, stretching, grabbing some water or squeezing in a bit of exercise.
Boundaries and transitions are important and create buffers to help put one part of our identities aside to be better suited to address another, new task at hand. Especially if we’re going between private and professional personas.
For more tips on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, check out our Speexx e-book on this very topic.
3. Set agendas
How many times have you been on an awkward video call wherein everyone spoke at the same time, or silence rang loudly and seemingly endlessly, because no one was certain who as going to speak next?
This is made even worse and more disjointed if some folks have poor Internet connections, and might interject on a topic everyone else has already moved away from.
For professional and even personal calls, it’s helpful to set an agenda beforehand that everyone can refer to during the meeting. Interruptions are painful and disruptive enough in person; on video calls, they can really set productivity back and 30 minutes can go by without anyone having made any progress or sharing important updates. An agenda will keep you all on track.
4. Use different tools for different purposes
If you’re constantly using Microsoft Teams for work, consider using Zoom for personal affairs. If Zoom is your employer’s preferred tool, suggest that you FaceTime your friends and family instead. You might also look into Jitsi, Google Hangouts or Skype for a change.
At Speexx, we use our own software for video language training in the virtual classroom. During the first few months of the pandemic, average usage time has increased up to 400%; fortunately, our users don’t seem to suffer from Zoom Fatigue! So, if you do, indeed, need a Zoom break, check out a Speexx test account.
There are a ton of other, even free, options on the market – rest assured that you don’t have to stare at the same UI all day if you don’t want to. We’ve compiled some other suggestions for you here.
5. Limit your calls
Finally, the way many of us would leave a conference room groaning about how “that meeting could’ve been an email” – the same goes for video meetings. Just because we’re all working remotely doesn’t mean we need to connect all the time, if a quick Slack message or old-fashioned call (no video necessary) might suffice.
Especially when it comes to one-on-one conversations, or more casual check-ins (meetings that don’t require note-taking), we’re big fans of the “walk and talks.” Encourage your colleague to put some earphones or AirPods in and you can both go on separate walks while you talk. This also allows you to both get some exercise! It’s also been proven that walking can stimulate creativity.
Goodbye to Zoom Fatigue
It’s our hope that these tips help combat the dreaded Zoom Fatigue. But perhaps the most important thing to remember is that on top of all of this, everyone’s feeling scared, anxious and uncertain. These feelings, alone, are draining. So the best we can do is to all be patient and flexible and check in with each other – whether it’s via Zoom, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams or some combination of these tools. Let’s all just be agile and ready to bend and shift to see what works best for each of our organizations!