Zoom Fatigue: How This Phenomenon Is Severely Affecting The Remote Working Ecosystem

This past year has seen the development of many new technologies, concepts, and ideas – all of which contribute towards adapting to the new way of life that has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and continues to be impacted in more ways than one. In order to communicate efficiently, video calls became the norm. Individuals & businesses adopted the various webinar and virtual conference platforms such as Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.

In particular, the extended use of Zoom as a platform has given rise to the phenomenon of ‘Zoom Fatigue’. This now common phenomenon is a situation wherein an individual feels constantly exhausted, drained and worn out due to continually having to be a part of video meetings or conferences.

The science behind this concept is that human beings communicate with both verbal and non-verbal cues and are subconsciously trained to pick up more than just what’s being said by the person in front of them. With video conferencing, this natural function drastically reduces from both sides and thus has a draining effect on its users. 

Effects of Zoom Fatigue

The effects of this phenomenon can vary from person to person, where some are more affected than others. Let us walk you through some of the most commonly-reported effects of Zoom fatigue:

1. Burnout at work

Burnout is a hampered mental state and extremely overworked condition, which leads to unproductivity. This phenomenon may occur as an effect of Zoom fatigue, as one is unable to deal with constantly being present on multiple video calls throughout the day.

2. Forgetfulness and difficulty in concentrating 

Another effect of Zoom fatigue is that it may lead to forgetfulness and cause difficulties in concentrating. There is reduced productivity and difficulty in concentrating on tasks because of a cycle of multiple video calls on a daily basis. 

3. Increasing frustration and irritability

Due to the rise in anxiety and stress hormones in the body, caused by burnout or difficulty in concentration, an individual may also get easily frustrated or be constantly irritable. This in turn will affect their ability to communicate effectively and even hamper their work.

4. Fatigue, Tension, and Insomnia

Not only can Zoom fatigue affect your mental health but in extreme situations, it may also start to hamper your physical health. Increased fatigue, back and muscle aches and insomnia due to high stress levels may be some of the physical effects that it has. At a time like this, it is of utmost importance to take care of your health above all else.

Dealing with Zoom Fatigue

Over time, experts have devised tips to cope with Zoom Fatigue. While Zoom Fatigue may be unavoidable at some point, one can always plan to mitigate its effects for mental and physical well-being. Here are some suggestions on how you can reduce the effects of Zoom fatigue:

1. Plan a convenient meeting schedule

While planning out your meetings and filling up your weekly schedule, make sure you don’t overburden yourself. Plan short gaps between calls, and do not plan too many calls on days where you have meetings that are longer than an hour. In case you feel that there are too many meetings on one day, request attendees to reschedule for the next day.

2. Create a positive and supportive work environment 

A big motivator during such times is a healthy, positive and most importantly, supportive work environment. It is imperative to develop a work environment that is cognizant of the current situation and allows employees to take time off. Sometimes it should be okay to simply turn off your camera, skip non-compulsory meetings, or just take a day off for your mental health and well-being.

3. Speak to a professional if you feel overwhelmed 

If you feel especially mentally exhausted and overwhelmed, you should seek the help of a mental healthcare professional. Therapists and counsellors help you achieve better mental well-being and navigate through this difficult time.

4. As an employer, consider alternate platforms for internal communication & events 

Over time, meetings over a simple and dull platform can get monotonous. This is what led to the term’ Zoom Fatigue’ being coined. Employers can consider new-age platforms to host organization-wide meetings, or even consider planning some engagement activities during meetings to reduce the impact of Zoom fatigue. Platforms like Nunify offer emoji reactions, live polls, and a host of engagement features for attendees to use, in addition to a clean and easy-to-use user interface that is convenient and easily understandable for new users.

To host an engaging meeting for your team, try this approach –

1. Start with check-in, asking a random icebreaker question. Have a meeting facilitator call out people in order to answer

2. Review the list of action items from the last meeting

3. Check-in on objectives using the GROW framework

4. Build an agenda with the facilitator going around the room asking people for discussion topics, and setting goals for individuals and teams

5. Close out the meeting with a quick game of pictionary!

There may be some challenges initially, as you “mix work and fun,” but we’ve found a meeting that roughly follows the flow shared above to be quite effective in keeping a team feeling inspired and engaged. This is an alternative that you can consider, instead of segmenting work meetings and social meetings for your teams.

In conclusion, we have to acknowledge that Zoom fatigue is an unavoidable reality due to the remote-working environment; however, its effects can be mitigated!

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