In December 2019, Zoom had a humble base of 10 million users. Five months later, that number rocketed to 300 million. Jaw-dropping, right? That increase has impacted the workforce and caused a new term to be crafted, a phenomenon called “Zoom fatigue.” Zoom fatigue is defined by the Psychiatric Times as “the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication” and is a common complaint among remote employees.
Attending back-to-back or numerous virtual meetings can be challenging for many reasons:
● Being on camera makes some participants feel like they are being observed every moment and must remain hyper-focused on the discussion to appear engaged.
● It’s more difficult to know who is going to speak next. Participating requires extra social processing and the ability to interpret auditory and nonverbal cues.
● Working from home or a remote location can contain distractions that wouldn’t be present in a workplace.
● Looking at ourselves on camera can provoke anxiety and self-criticism, putting participants in a negative headspace.
Have you heard complaints about energy dipping or noticed productivity diving after prolonged time in virtual meetings? If so, here are some tips to share with your employees to help them combat Zoom fatigue:
1. Don’t schedule video calls during your most productive hours. Instead, schedule them later in the day when you might already be winding down. This will help ease the anxiety caused by feeling like you’re losing peak productivity time.
2. Give yourself a buffer between calls. It’s a good idea to take breaks, get up, and move around your workspace to renew your energy. Research has shown that quick “exercise snacks” can boost energy and productivity, so consider adding ten-minute movement breaks to your routine.
3. Identify and remove distractions. If you are working from home or another location where you might be interrupted by family, pets, or other distractions, think about ways you can minimize their impact. Perhaps scheduling a specific time to answer your kids’ questions or walk the dog would help you focus during video calls and remain focused during the rest of the day.
4. Go mute and/or no video to help with social processing. If you don’t need to speak
5. Minimize yourself. Many video platforms allow you to minimize or eliminate your view of yourself. Doing this might prevent the negative effects of constant self-focused attention.
6. Make meetings shorter by utilizing pre-reads. Some organizations send detailed documents to all meeting participants for review before the meeting. Processing information, making edits, or suggesting changes inside the document can help get everyone on the same page before the meeting, potentially shortening the meeting time.
7. Establish meeting rules. Decide before the meeting whether cameras need to be on or off. If no screen-sharing is necessary, allow participants to turn their cameras off and take a break from being on-screen. Similarly, consider holding meetings that don’t require video on the telephone instead.
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