3 simple tips to reduce “Zoom fatigue”

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, we have all begun to use online video platforms, such as Zoom and Teams, for work and to connect with friends and family.

I don’t think I can count the amount of ‘Zoom drinks’ I had in the past year. Just too many 😉

Do you also recognise those days when you feel drained after a day of back-to-back online calls which makes you just want to avoid social activities and be on your own?

Zoom fatigue

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
It even has a name “Zoom Fatigue”.

Explanations for “Zoom Fatigue”

Professor Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab researched why videoconferencing is so exhausting.

He addresses four non-verbal explanations:

Eye gaze at a close distance
When you’re all together in a meeting room people sit further away and the size of their face is smaller. Besides that, the majority in the room is not constantly looking at the speaker or to the other people in the room.
How different is this with video conferencing where all people get the front-on views of all other people non-stop. You can compare it with being in a crowded underground and you’re forced to stare at the person in front of you, instead of looking down at for example your phone.

Cognitive load is higher
In a face-to-face meeting non-verbal communication, like posture, nodding or a sidelong glance, comes naturally. In video conferences you need to work harder to send and receive those important signals.

An all day mirror
Although you can change the settings to “hide self view” you still see yourself at a higher frequency and longer duration than in a physical workspace. It’s like you’re constantly walking around with a mirror in your office. When seeing a mirror image, you’re more likely to evaluate yourself and show more pro-social behaviour. And this self-evaluation can be stressful.

Looking in the mirror

Reduced mobility
We do most of our video conference calls via computer, which means you stay close to the keyboard, mostly sit down and stare straight. How different is this in a face-to-face setting where you walk between meeting rooms, you have a chat at the coffee machine and you stand up to do a presentation.

Easy ways to decrease your fatigue

Based on the above insights Bailenson has 3 simple suggestions to mitigate the exhausting effects of video conferencing.

  1. Hide your self-window.
    Start the meeting with your self-window on, check if everything looks ok, and then after a couple of seconds switch it off.
  1. Use an external webcam and external keyboard.
    You can also think of using a standing desk. Most of them are height adjustable to ensure you’re working with your ideal posture. This gives you more flexibility and control over how to do your video meetings.
  1. Do more “audio-only” meetings.
    Besides more audio meetings agree with your colleagues to do some of the calls via phone as well. This makes it possible for you to wander around in your house or even outside.

Remember that just because you can use video it doesn’t mean you have to.

Have a great week!

PS: Have you downloaded my free work-life balance tips yet? You can find them here.