How to Reduce Zoom Fatigue

June 2020
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You’re not alone if you’re finding numerous video calls exhausting, according to an article from The Conversation by Andre Spicer, a professor of organizational behavior at the City University of London’s Cass Business School. 

Previously used in some business meetings, videoconferencing has quickly grown to become the primary tool used for schooling, socializing, dating, worshipping and gaming as people continue to work and learn remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. 

As more time is spent on platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Webex, users are experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” Spicer writes. “We rely on it to connect with people, yet it can leave us feeling tired and empty. It has given us some semblance of normal life during lockdown, but it can make relationships seem unreal.”

Interacting via screens is more difficult because our brains must work harder, he says. We miss cues like “the smell of the room or some detail in our peripheral vision. This additional information helps our brains make sense of what is going on.”

The lack of in-person connections can put us at a disadvantage, for instance, on a job interview, where body language and eye contact are important. Low-quality video, a poor connection, or a pause or delay can make us think that the person on the other end of the line is less friendly, which leads to a more cautious approach to communication. 

Video calls can also make us emotionally exhausted or feel alienated. Some therapists have felt they have “lost connection” with their clients. And anxious students may perform worse when taking a test via video after seeing a large photo of themselves on screen or comparing their images with those of their peers. 

 “The spread of videoconferencing can trigger a desperate search for recognition,” Spicer says. Some employees feel overlooked and try to get the attention of co-workers or managers by taking on additional tasks, or sharing interesting research or anecdotes.

Here are some ways to make videoconferencing less tiring.

  1. Avoid multitasking while on a video call to cut your cognitive workload and help you pay attention. 
  2. Take a break between calls and get away from the screen to reflect, regroup and recover. 
  3. Hide the image of yourself so you feel less self-conscious and more focused on what others are saying.
  4. Use other ways of communicating to supplement video calls, like text messages, emails and phone calls. 
  5. Embrace the silence — sometimes it’s best to not communicate, and to work independently instead.

    photo credit: ansrey popov
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