The Fight Against Zoom Fatigue

By Guest Author Kaelyn Schulz

In our “New Normal,” remote and hybrid work from home is here to stay, which means we will continue to use technology to connect with clients and colleagues in our post-pandemic world. As we embrace an online workspace, we also have a new co-worker, Videoconferencing Fatigue, a.k.a Zoom Fatigue.

What is Zoom Fatigue?

While Zoom has dominated the videoconferencing market, any video chat platform can have the same draining results on users. Zoom Fatigue is characterized by the feeling of tiredness and burnout caused by being on camera for prolonged periods. It can zap the bubbliest extrovert and is especially draining for introverted personalities.

You may assume a controlled, at-home video call would be an introvert’s dream, but excessive eye contact, close-up images, self-screen view, and reduced mobility take a toll. Extroverts do not have it much better. Video conferencing reduces the amount of water-cooler conversation many extroverts use to bond; screens only capture faces cropping out social non-verbal cues like hands, sitting style, gestures, and silence, or being muted is now interpreted as disinterest versus a natural pause to a conversation. As it turns out, no personality type is protected from the consequences of video-chat overload.

Fortunately, there are common Zoom Fatigue causes and remedies you can implement.

  1. Hide self-view. Right-click on your photo to select the “hide self-view” button. Seeing yourself during a meeting can make you feel self-conscious. When we see images of ourselves, we tend to get overly critical. Watching yourself speak, react, sit still, etc. is anxiety-provoking and makes you feel like a solo presenter instead of a contributor to a conversation.
  2. Minimize the Zoom screen to one-third the size of your monitor. Take Zoom out of full-screen and reduce the Zoom window. Even better, move the video screen to an external monitor to give more space between you and the screen. Direct eye contact is draining, and too much of it is unnatural. Additionally, when images are overly large, they mimic the sensation that someone is in your personal space.
  3. Move Around. Set your camera at a distance and create a work-appropriate background space to move in. You automatically work to stay in the frame when the camera is on. Sometimes we have a limited area of the room behind us we want seen. All of this can mean tense muscles and a frozen position for hours. If you can, set your camera at a distance or use an external camera so you can move around and stand up.
  4. Turn the camera off and go audio-only. Have a professional headshot saved as your non-video participate screen. Sometimes you need a break from being seen. Going unseen does not mean being unheard; consider other ways to add to the conversation like using the chat box, emojis, and “+1” affirmations.
  5. Limit the number of meetings Ask yourself, “Can this conversation be an email, phone call, or text chat?”. Video conferencing is an excellent remote work tool, but it does not need to be used every meeting. Additionally, we should feel free to set boundaries on the calendar with “No Meeting” blocks to dedicate to email and work and take a break from meetings, video or not.

If you are curious where you fall on the spectrum of Zoom Fatigue, complete this Stanford 15-item questionnaire and see how your experience measures against 500+ participants collected over the past year.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

What does Zoom Fatigue feel like for you? How do you recover?

Any advice on additional ways to reduce Zoom Fatigue you can share?

As an introvert/ extrovert, what benefits does Zoom bring to you?

REFERENCES:

Granneman, J. (2020, April 30). Why zoom calls are so draining for introverts. IntrovertDear.com. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://introvertdear.com/news/why-zoom-calls-are-draining-for-introverts/

Kenn, B. (2022, April 27). An introvert’s musings on Zoom Fatigue. Zoom Blog. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://blog.zoom.us/introverts-musings-on-zoom-fatigue/

Ramachandran,V. (2021, March 1). Four causes for ‘zoom fatigue’ and their solutions. Stanford News. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/

Shi, D. (2021, March 3). How to make your virtual meetings more fair to introverts. Fast Company. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://www.fastcompany.com/90608039/how-to-make-your-virtual-meetings-more-fair-to-introverts

10 comments

  • I have never thought about Zoom fatigue before, but this is a valid perspective that I think a lot of people can relate to. I particularly resonated with the suggestion to take your self-view out of the Zoom. It can be distracting to make sure you look professional, or nice, or not weird while speaking and listening. I think this could take some pressure off Zoom meetings, while still being present. After all, it’s not like we walk around with a mirror in front of us all day!

  • had a wonderful opportunity in applying collaboration tools and hosting a zoom meeting for class. I wanted to share a great article too as well. I also wanted to learn more regarding LCMS. This is a great article.
    https://www.dominknow.com/blog/lcms-101-what-is-a-learning-content-management-system

  • Luckily, I work at a company that’s hybrid, but my old company was fully remote. Being in a leadership position meant I spent about 27 hours a week in meetings. That wouldn’t have been so bad if they weren’t all on Zoom. For me, zoom fatigue feels like having my mouse hovering over the “leave meeting” button eager for the last person to speak and say farewell. Making sure my lighting is well, that I look put together, I’m nodding at the right moments, and I don’t accidentally stand up (with no bottoms on) or unmute myself at the wrong time is nerve wrecking. The only way I would recover was walking away from my computer and trying to decompress in a way that doesn’t involve a screen. Zoom fatigue led to me not wanting to be on my phone or watch tv as much.

    I think avoiding multitasking can help. I’m not sure about other people but working fully remote just exposed how horrible I am at multitasking, or at least when it comes to being on a video call and doing other things. It’s hard and exhausting trying to finish up work while also be an active participant in the zoom meeting. Studies show that multitasking can make easy tasks harder than they have to be and I second that!

    I’m an introverted extrovert if that makes sense. I’m extroverted depending on who I am around and how comfortable I am with those people or groups of people. The biggest benefit it brings is keeping me connected with my coworker. Working remotely can get lonely sometimes, especially once I’ve built rapport with coworkers. Zoom makes me feel like we work face to face to some extent so it fills my social cup.

  • Priscila Membreno

    Any advice on additional ways to reduce Zoom Fatigue you can share?
    Only thing I can think of besides the ones already mention is see if you can try to do your zoom in a different setting. My recommendation would be to do it outside with the fresh air. I always found that environment so relaxing that I dont really feel the zoom fatigue.

    As an introvert/ extrovert, what benefits does Zoom bring to you?
    Ive read that for some people, they dont like to zoom because they feel like they always have to in a way “dress up” for the camera. My opinion on that, if you are joining a meeting for work over zoom or joining a meeting FTF, whatever you wear to the FTF, wouldnt you present yourself the same way over zoom? Some people do not like having their cameras on and I totally respect it and understand it. But if the meeting was FTF, theres no real life feature to turn your camera off so others can not see you.
    Im an extrovert but I find the same enjoyment/feelings/experience almost talking to someone face to face or through zoom. Sure, with FTF, theres little added bonuses regarding having a convo FTF but I can have the same convo, feel the same feelings over zoom. I think you can still be an extrovert with zoom and I think when it comes to introverts, zoom can accommodate them more by allowing them to have the opportunity not to turn on their camera, they dont have to talk, they can just chat etc.

  • Bernadette McGinester

    This topic is so relevant today because although we have gone back to some in-person meetings Zoom has become the norm now. Everyone has experienced fatigue through Zoom at some point so the tools were very helpful and I will definitely take and use them for myself during Zoom as it’s part of our everyday work and schooling.

  • This fatigue makes it difficult to retain the topic of discussion and can limit quality engagement. I try to battle this by being upfront about taking notes during important meetings which will limit my eye contact and help me remain engaged in the conversation.

  • From now on – this topic is always relevant. As a trainer, I look for ways to get my program participants to get up and move around. The best way I do this is to play show and tell with items in their home. I will ask them to show me their kitchen gadgets, their favorite shoes, things around their house that have no meaning but they refuse to throw out, etc. It usually turns into a fun ice breaker that gets them talking, moving and laughing. I love it!

  • I really enjoyed this article and the links that were included. I took the the Fatigue Quiz myself and came back at 74th percentile for emotional fatigue. It made me really think about why? WHY? After some soul searching I think it all comes down to the fact I don’t always want to feel my appearance is being judged over my thoughts. And… the peer pressure I often feel to light up that camera is exhausting. The reality is I do think people judge others if they don’t have their camera on. It is perceived as not being participative. The reality is, having the camera off does not mean people are disengaged from the discussion, disinterested in the content or have an issue with the organizer. I simply think it means you don’t feel like, in that moment, having people peer at you and your every flaw close up on a computer screen. So I will definitely be trying to implement some of the suggestions in the article. Thank you!

  • Zoom fatigue is real! In addition to Zoom fatigue, some are also exhausted due to code-switching. Adjusting your voice, body language, and personality to fit into a space for 30 minutes is exhausting! Thank you for sharing tips to help us fight the fatigue.

  • This is a fantastic opportunity to get a break from zooming and great ways to utilize these tasks. This is now an everyday task for work, medical as well as family and friends., Great article

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