November 9, 2022
It’s not just you. Those Zoom meetings that seemed like a good idea during the pandemic have morphed into business as usual.
And studies have shown that the unintended consequences are that “Zoom Fatigue” is now common for millions of workers.
To be clear, this is not a knock on Zoom or any similar platform. But virtual meetings have skyrocketed – with hundreds of millions happening daily, as working from home and social distancing are the norm.
Countless back-to-back Zoom meetings leave many workers feeling like they can’t get their work done. Which leads to more stress, and eventually burnout. What’s more a recent study has shown that women experience higher levels of Zoom fatigue than men.
Here are four examples of why video meetings are so fatiguing to most people:
- Excessive Close-up Eye Contact is Highly Intense
In a normal meeting, people look at the speaker, take notes or gaze elsewhere. But on Zoom, everyone is looking at everyone all the time. A listener is treated nonverbally like a speaker, so even if you don’t talk in a meeting, you’re still looking at people staring at you. The amount of intense eye contact can increase the anxiety of public speaking for many.
2. Looking at Your Face is Stressful
Seeing your face on screen can act as a stressor for many people. Poor lighting, busy backgrounds and weird camera angles can negatively affect a person’s onscreen appearance. It can also be stressful to view your facial expressions while talking on screen, which can lead to some workers not contributing as they should.
- Oh, Those Unintended Interruptions
For those working from home, the threat of interruptions can cause anxiety. Barking dogs, bad connections, kids coming over to “go potty”, or husbands walking by in their underwear can make an employee look bad. And it’s also stressful for the other participants, who are already anxious at having to be in a meeting – and see the interruptions as sapping time from their day.
- Virtual Meetings are Actually Harder not Easier
They’re intended to be time-saving and productive, but it actually takes more effort to have conversations on screen than it does in person. Video calls require more mental processing than face-to-face interactions – and we have to work harder to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. This becomes mentally intense and can drain our energy.
How to Snap out of the Fatigue
There’s no question that video meetings are here to stay. But there are ways to reduce the negative effects.
First off, consider whether the meeting needs to happen. In some cases, shared document platforms with detailed comments can reduce the need to meet. Put a start and stop limit on each meeting. Block your calendar to give you some time to get actual work done (Limiting the number of Zoom meetings in a day can help your stress level.)
And sometimes, the phone is better. On the phone, you only have to concentrate on one or two voices and can walk around which can help your thinking.
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