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How to combat Zoom Fatigue during lockdown

How to combat Zoom Fatigue during lockdown

Posted 29th April, 2020 by Sarah

6 minute read

According to reports, the number of Zoom users has jumped from 10 million to more than 100 million during the past three months. The company’s share price is rising faster than an Elon Musk satellite.

While many businesses are currently relying on video calls and live streaming to carry on with BAU during lockdown, in recent days, psychologists have identified a new phenomenon called Zoom Fatigue. In this article, we’ll look at what the experts are saying about Zoom Fatigue and offer a round-up of ways to combat it.

What is zoom fatigue?

In a nutshell, Zoom Fatigue is being described as a feeling of exhaustion brought on by too many virtual meetings and meetups, whether that’s through Zoom itself or other video conferencing platforms – from the video conferencing functionality that comes free with the likes of Flockmail premium email to Facetime.

What causes Zoom fatigue?

Psychologists have identified the following factors as all contributing to Zoom Fatigue…

Video calls make us work harder to process body language: In an interview with the BBC, Gianpiero Petriglieri, a professor of sustainable learning and development in the workplace, explained that people expend more energy processing non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language during video calls.

The task of decoding body language becomes even more taxing when there are multiple people contributing to the call.

Video calls make people feel like they have to perform for the camera: According to psychologists, many people experience a heightened sense that they’re being watched during video calls. After all, their face is appearing on a screen a little like they’re on television.

Therefore, many people feel like they have to perform for the camera. Where in a regular warm-bodied morning meeting they might stare into their cup of coffee or spend a few seconds looking at their nails, people in video meetings feel more pressure to look interested and switched on. This state of being ‘always on’ drains energy.

Seeing our own image during video calls can be tiring: Speaking to Stylist magazine, media and business psychologist Charlotte Armitage explained that the fact that participants in video calls can often see themselves can be exhausting.

She said: “The additional psychological processing involved in attending to one’s own behaviour and actions, as mirrored by the online platform, can be draining for a whole number of reasons. At the very least, it adds an additional level of stimuli that you wouldn’t have had in a face to face meeting.”

Video calls remind us of the wider Covid-19 situation and that elicits anxiety: In his BBC interview Gianpeiero Petriglieri also said: “The video call is our reminder of the people we have lost temporarily. It is the distress that every time you see someone online, such as your colleagues, that reminds you we should really be in the workplace together.”

6 ways to ease Zoom Fatigue

Ration your use of the camera: It may take some getting used to, but try to carry out more of your virtual meetings without enabling your camera. This will take away the pressure to perform and the additional stimuli that comes from seeing your own image. If you worry what your fellow meeting attendees will think of this behaviour, explain to them before hand why you’re doing it.

Reposition your screen: If you do need to have your video on, try positioning your screen so you’re not looking directly at it. Treat it like the sun in this respect.

Don’t always dive right into the agenda: In warm body meetings, there’s often a little chit chat before attendees get down to the agenda. If you run a business, you might want to encourage your team members to join virtual meetings five minutes early so they can chew the fat and check in on each other before getting serious.

Pick up the phone: You don’t always need to get on a video call to communicate during lockdown. If you have a quick question to ask someone or you’re planning a quick one to one meeting, you can always go old school and do it by phone.

Allow yourself buffer time: Back to back meetings are tiring enough in the real world. However, with the added mental demands of video calls, it’s even more important to ensure you schedule buffer time into your day between meetings.

Move away from your screen during this time. Step outside for a breath of fresh air and to see what nature is doing for a second, or make yourself a cup of tea and wait by the kettle for it to brew rather than rushing back to your computer while the water boils.

Try something different: A website called Human Online has started receiving a bit more attention during lockdown. On this website you are invited to experience a Human Minute. It’s free and it involves being matched with another person from somewhere else in the world so you can simply sit in silence with them for up to 60 seconds. It’s not for everyone, but some reviewers, like Brendan Hesse from Life Hack, have said it’s helping them through the over stimulation of lockdown life.

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