What is Zoom Fatigue?
With COVID-19 forcing many businesses to work remotely, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and other video call applications. While these video calls allow people to safely connect, there are also several drawbacks. A big issue affecting millions of people is Zoom, or virtual, Fatigue. No matter which video call application you are using, video calls may make you fatigued. Zoom Fatigue is “tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with the overuse of virtual platforms of communication, particularly videoconferencing.” Workplace burnout has always been prevalent; however, Zoom Fatigue contributes to overall burnout. It is important to be able to recognize, manage, and prevent Zoom Fatigue.
Why do I feel Fatigued?
Zoom Fatigue may be caused due to several reasons. Many employees are used to working in an office and having face-to-face meetings and are not used to having these virtual meetings. If employees are not used to being on video for meetings, they may be anxious about how they look, how they are acting, or how messy they think their home is, which can be draining on a person’s mental health. With remote work it is important to be able to keep in touch with your fellow colleagues; however, this may lead to several back-to-back calls. Employees may have been able to move around during regular office meetings, but most cameras have a set field of view making the person stay in the same spot for multiple hours, severely limiting their mobility. If employees did much of their work in a typical office setting, they may not have an ideal or suitable home office where they can take their calls in private, especially if their significant other and children are also working from home. This can lead to your home life showing up during calls. From animals barking, children running through the background, and outside traffic noise, it can be very overwhelming and taxing to try and get through a call with all these distractions. Lastly, technical issues such as poor internet or not knowing how to use the platform can make meetings drag on longer than the anticipated time. It can be frustrating having to repeat yourself since you or another employee was muted or did not have their audio turned on. Being dropped from calls, having meetings “freeze,” having to constantly reconnect, and having audio issues can easily make a quick ten-minute meeting into a thirty-minute meeting or longer.
How to Recognize Zoom Fatigue
Zoom Fatigue can show up in several ways. Common symptoms are sore eyes; headaches and migraines; and blurriness and double vision. While these issues have already been prevalent for people who work on computers all day, there are newer symptoms that are specifically being caused by frequent Zoom calls. These symptoms include tiredness between calls, anxiety of turning on your camera, and lack of focus.
How to Manage and Prevent Zoom Fatigue
Back-lit screens, small text, and screen glare, strain our eyes, making them feel dry and tired. We often blink less when staring at a screen all day and it is a good idea to take frequent breaks throughout the day by implementing the 20-20-20 rule. The rule is to look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to refocus our eyes and help to alleviate some of the eye strain that is being caused. It is important to avoid multitasking during video meetings. It can be very tempting to try to get ahead and work on another screen or scroll on your phone during a call. However, this will only cut into your performance and you will miss information discussed during the call. This can lead to the speaker having to repeat themselves, thus making the meeting longer since you were not paying attention. Closing tabs, or any other programs that may distract you, can reduce the urge to multitask during a meeting. While many employees may not oversee scheduled meeting times, employers should do their best to avoid back-to-back calls to allow their employees a break between calls. Allowing a 10-to-20-minute break between calls will allow them to step outside for a moment, make coffee, or time to stretch or move their body. If possible, changing your location to either a different desk or a different room can help alleviate some fatigue. For instance, certain areas of the house may have better lighting or may be quieter. Lastly, it is important to set boundaries for yourself and others around the house. With most people having no, or little commute, it is easy to get wrapped up in work and log another hour or two to get ahead for the following days. This will only lead to faster burnout, so it is imperative to set a time to log off and stick with it.
Thomas is a member of Cerini & Associates’ audit staff where he works with our education and school district clients. He conducts claims audits at various school districts on Long Island.