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- On August 25, 2020
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Zoom fatigue is real – and it’s plaguing many who have been working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to pay attention on a video call or feeling exhausted after several virtual meetings, you may have experienced Zoom burnout. This very real phenomena has become a new topic of conversation for those operating their businesses remotely over the past six months.
What is Zoom Burnout?
By “Zoom burnout” we mean the feeling of fatigue or inability to fully concentrate during video conference meetings. Zoom is the latest teleconferencing technology of choice for many businesses during the pandemic, but the same feeling applies to any virtual meeting platform.
While most companies are grateful to technologies like Zoom that allow them to stay in touch with employees working remotely, there are certainly drawbacks to teleconferencing as opposed to in-person meetings. Many workers are finding that it is more difficult to stay focused during a Zoom meeting.
Why does Zoom fatigue occur, though? There are a number of reasons that you may be feeling a bit exhausted after long video meetings. First, it’s easy to lose focus during video calls. With other tabs open on our computers, phones nearby, and the added distraction of being at home, it can be difficult to pay attention. Many people working at home do not have the luxury of a private home office, so they may be sharing desk space with spouses, roommates, or children.
Aside from distractions, however, psychologists have found valid reasons that we feel Zoom burnout. Excessive screen time can cause over stimulation and stress, sitting still for long Zoom meetings is physically and mentally exhausting, and focusing intently on a screen full of floating heads requires more intense focus than an in-person meeting would.
In a conference room, you might allow your gaze to trail off without worrying about looking inattentive. In a Zoom meeting, however, looking away may give the appearance that you’re not paying attention or you’re looking at something else in your home, forcing us to stare more consistently at the screen. This level of focus and eye contact can be draining, both mentally and physically.
How to Avoid Zoom Burnout
- Find a Comfortable Setting
- Stick to Strict Agendas
- Use Other Forms of Communication
- Meet in Smaller Groups
- Avoid Multitasking
- Take Breaks
Find a Comfortable Setting
Before any virtual meeting, make sure you have a comfortable setting with as few distractions as possible. A home office is ideal, but if you don’t have that luxury then try to create as much of an office atmosphere as possible. Choose a good, supportive chair. Sit at a desk or table. Try to sit away from distractions like kids, roommates, spouses, or pets, if possible.
Being physically comfortable will make it easier to focus on your meeting. That doesn’t mean you should take meetings from your bed or couch, however – it’s important to separate your “home” spaces from your “work from home” spaces.
If possible, try to find a plain backdrop for your Zoom meetings as well, and encourage coworkers to do so. It’s easy to get distracted checking out your coworkers’ home decor. A blank background makes it easier to focus on the people you’re meeting with and the discussion at hand.
Stick to a Strict Agenda
In any meeting, it’s easy to get off topic. This can lead to meetings dragging on longer than necessary and makes for a less productive meeting. With Zoom meetings, this can be even more prevalent due to technical issues, time limits for free Zoom accounts, and WFH distractions.
If you’re running a meeting via Zoom or another video technology, set an agenda and stick to it. Try to allot a certain amount of time to each part of the agenda and adhere to those time limits. This ensures less time waste and less burnout from unproductive meetings.
Use Other Forms of Communication
Video conferencing has become the norm for remote workers during the pandemic, probably because it feels like the closest alternative to an in-person meeting. A video meeting isn’t always necessary however – certain things can be discussed just as easily over a phone call, email, or via messaging tools.
Whenever possible, try to use other forms of communication to talk. You may find that discussions are more efficient on the phone, where you don’t have to worry as much about initial pleasantries, technical issues, or constant eye contact.
If you have a call with someone you don’t know, try to push for a telephone call rather than video. Meeting someone virtually who you don’t already know can be even more exhausting than meeting with a coworker you’re already comfortable with. If you’re feeling burnt out, you can also choose to call into Zoom meetings rather than join via video, so long as it is okay with your employer or coworkers running the meeting.
Meet in Smaller Groups
When possible, try to meet in smaller groups for video calls. If you’ve been on a Zoom call with 20+ people, you know how much more challenging it can be to communicate. There are more opportunities for technical difficulties, people are more likely to talk over one another, and some people on the call may not even get a word in.
If it’s important to have a company-wide meeting, by all means do so. If it’s possible to discuss certain issues with smaller remote teams or departments, however, try to shrink meeting sizes to accomplish shorter and less overwhelming video meetings.
We’ve all probably been there: you’re in a Zoom meeting, and your phone gets an alert, or you see a new email come in on the next tab over. It’s tempting to attend to minor tasks while you’re listening to someone else speak in a virtual meeting. To avoid burnout and improve focus, however, avoid multitasking.
Even though you think you’re listening while you open a text message or skim an email, it’s simply impossible to devote your full attention to your meeting while you’re looking at something else. While it can be difficult to ignore distractions such as these – especially if the topic at hand doesn’t directly relate to you – it’s best to avoid other tasks.
Try to give your full attention to your meeting. If you feel the need to look at something else because you don’t want to stare at your coworkers or your own face on the screen, take meeting notes to keep your hands busy while your mind stays on task.
Finally, take breaks during your workday. If you can, try to limit the amount of time you spend in meetings. If it’s important that you virtually meet with people several times a day, try to space out your meeting times so that you can take breaks. Use those breaks to stretch, eat, look away from your screen, and decompress.
Zoom has been a huge asset for businesses working remotely during the pandemic, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Avoid Zoom fatigue with these tips and stay mindful of your mental health during this time. As an employer, check in on your employees and try to prioritize their mental wellbeing over productivity – at the end of the day, a happy employee is more likely to be successful and productive anyway.
For help navigating business during the pandemic visit our blog, or for help hiring employees as your business returns to full swing, contact TalentFleX Solutions. Our team of professional recruiters can help you navigate the hiring process so that your business can not only survive the pandemic, but grow and thrive.