It’s 10AM but you’re already mentally drained and reaching for your second cup of coffee. Why are you so tired? Chances are you’re experiencing zoom fatigue. What is zoom fatigue?
According to BBC, video calls are more tiring because it requires more focus to process non-verbal cues like body language. You also have more things to focus on such as your own view, 20+ different screens, or your colleague’s cute puppy playing in the background. There is also the added stress that results from silence in a conversation, which in person may seem natural but on a video call may be a technology problem. Additionally, there is the stress of constantly being watched while you’re on camera. All of these factors create a very mentally exhausting experience that leaves you tired before the day even starts.
To help combat zoom fatigue, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do during your day to avoid being mentally drained and stay energized.
Don’t turn on your camera all the time.
As mentioned above, one of the reasons zoom fatigue happens is the constant focus of the camera. You’re watching yourself, 20 other people, and the hundreds of things going on in their backgrounds. If you’re just spectating in a large meeting, turn off your camera and give yourself a break from the constant eye contact. With the camera off, you can close your eyes or look away from the screen for a moment. If you’re in a smaller meeting, there is no harm in letting your coworkers know that you won’t be showing your camera. Everyone is zoom-ed out at this point, and they will understand that you just need a break.
Reduce onscreen stimuli
One way to reduce video call fatigue is to reduce onscreen stimuli. With 20+ active cameras staring back at you, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Here are some ways you can reduce on screen stimuli:
- Put your own video out of view
- Ask everyone to have plain backgrounds or use plain virtual backgrounds
- Enable ‘speaker view’ instead of ‘gallery view’ to focus on one speaker and avoid looking at everyone else the entire time
For those of you that love to check Slack or your phone while on a video call, stop it. It may seem harmless but studies have shown that people who multitask have a harder time remembering things. When on a call, give the meeting your full attention. Close any unrelated tabs, close Slack, and put your phone away. If you need to do something during the meeting, consider taking notes. Also avoid doing other work during a video call. While it may seem like a good time to get small tasks done, by not giving your full attention you may be missing critical information.
Swap the video call for an alternative
The most obvious way to combat zoom fatigue is to not hold a zoom meeting at all. This may seem simple, but oftentimes we forget that some things can be done over email or Slack. If your team has to make decisions on a project, the Poll Everywhere for Slack integration makes polling easy. Just ask a multiple-choice question or Q&A activity and your team can swiftly give their feedback. This can easily replace a 15 minute video call without all of the formalities of check-ins, off-topic banter, and awkward technology interruptions that make video calling so insufferable.
Do regular check-ins
Break up video calls with regular check-ins. These check-ins can be done at the start of a meeting or in the middle to break up a long meeting. Your team will appreciate a short break. Your check-ins can be simple with a short poll asking your team “What helped you get through this week?” or sophisticated like an Employee Pulse Survey.
For more ideas on how to improve employee engagement, check out these 12 interactive get-to-know-you questions to engage your remote team.
Build in breaks
If you find yourself stuck in zoom meetings all day, build in breaks. If you’re the owner of a meeting, consider giving everyone a short 5 minute break after every 30 minutes. This time can be used to rest your eyes, grab some water or a snack, and go to the bathroom. During an in-person meeting, it is normal to stand up and leave if you need to, but in a virtual meeting it may feel uncomfortable. Therefore, building in breaks during your meeting will give you and your teammates a reason to rest before you continue working.
Do a stretch or grab some refreshments
After a meeting, do a stretch or grab some water to decompress. During a video call, we don’t realize that we’ve been sitting in the same spot for an hour. Give yourself a few minutes to relax by doing a quick stretch to loosen up. You should also take a short walk to the kitchen to grab coffee or any refreshments to re-energize yourself. In the office, it is normal to get up and get a snack so don’t feel bad for doing it in your home.
If you’re really feeling mentally drained, consider taking the day off. The constant stress and uncertainty that the coronavirus pandemic has placed on all of us is exhausting and you should take every chance you get to recharge yourself. If you aren’t sure if you should take a break, here’s when and how to effectively take a mental health day off. Take care of yourself, you deserve it.