“Zoom fatigue” has existed since the crazy idea of video conference calls came to fruition in the early 2000s. Yet the term has only become more widely known since the pandemic began in 2020 as the number of people working remotely skyrocketed – but so did burnout and employee disengagement. Zoom fatigue is only one piece of the puzzle, but an important one we need to tackle.
What is Zoom fatigue?
Zoom fatigue is the feeling of exhaustion that often occurs after attending several video meetings. The word Zoom is used generically here, as this goes for any platform that supports video conferencing. This includes Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and beyond.
What might be causing it?
There could be many factors causing Zoom fatigue including lack of focus and decreased communication. Some of the most likely causes, according to Jeremy Bailenson’s academic research, include:
- Excessive amounts of eye contact
- More difficulty sending and picking up on non-verbal cues
- Increased self-evaluation from staring at oneself
- Constraints on physical mobility
How to help your employees avoid Zoom fatigue
1. Avoid unnecessary meetings
Encourage employees to avoid scheduling video call meetings unless they need to. Ask yourself, “Do we need to meet ‘face-to-face’ for this?” If the answer is no, then it’s best to avoid the Zoom call. In addition, if a meeting with the same people is scheduled for the following day, then the call can probably wait! Compile multiple non-urgent topics to one meeting to cut down the overall time spent on video calls.
2. Build in breaks
Rolling from one video call to the next can be exhausting. Help employees catch a breath by allowing for breaks in between meetings. It’s best to have at least 5 minutes between calls but it’s even better to have a full 30 minutes. People have work to do, plus they may need a lunch break or time to re-engergize!
3. Mix it up
Video calls are not the be all end all. Messaging, emails, and project management software can serve as great means of communication. Determine which method will be the most appropriate for each task. That way you can keep alternating and avoid having employees burn out with video calls.
4. Sprinkle in social calls
Social video calls help engage your remote employees and maintain an inclusive hybrid workplace. Although they can be great for boosting morale, don’t overschedule social meetings. Having a virtual happy hour every other day is probably more often than people would hang out in a regular office setting. Spreading virtual calls and activities out over time will make them more meaningful. And make them optional so employees can choose to be there!
5. Encourage employees not to multitask
Foster a culture of remaining focused on the task at hand during calls. Multitasking on a call means divided attention. Divided attention might make the meeting less productive in the end. Another thing to keep in mind is the attendees. Only include people who need to pay attention on the guest list. If someone’s full attention isn’t needed on a call, they may not be needed on the call in the first place!
6. Don’t always default to video
Just because you’re using Zoom (another video support platform), doesn’t mean video should always be turned on. Sometimes it’s okay for cameras to be off. In fact, a University of Arizona study found that turning cameras off during virtual meetings can significantly reduce fatigue. It can relieve some of the pressure to constantly have a professional background, look presentable, and try to keep kids and pet out of the frame. When having the camera on is preferred or required, indicate that in the meeting invite so employees can be prepared.
Zoom and other video conference platforms are useful tools but should not be overused. Having constant video calls with the camera on does not necessarily equate to employee engagement, and battling Zoom fatigue is only one step in engaging employees! Keep the ball rolling with a digital recognition program to ultimately win the battle against burnout and employee disengagement.