After months of working from home, Zoom fatigue has well and truly set in for many of us.
For all the good technology brings, the toll it can take on employees cannot be overlooked.
Research shows that video conferencing tools and virtual meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom are making us tired – very tired. And it’s no surprise. According to Clockwise, the maker of a calendar assistant that optimizes employees’ work schedules, many workers are spending 29% more time in team meetings and 24% more time in one-on-one meetings than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those employed in tech jobs.
Even as social distancing measures ease, many employees will continue working from home at least part time, which means they’ll continue using video conferencing tools.
As a recent Axios article summarized, video calls, especially several a day, every day, are exhausting, not least of all because we’re using the platform for everything, from social gatherings and homeschooling to doctor’s appointments and religious services. It may just be too much of a good thing.
For employees required to be on several work-related video calls a day, it can be particularly draining. What we know innately, experts in human-computer interaction have confirmed: video conferencing is not a natural way to have a conversation. We can see ourselves, allowing for real-time critiquing of our every movement and gesture, it’s difficult to make eye contact, it opens up our personal life – our home environment – to colleagues and bosses, there is no diversity in the setting, with every conversation taking place in the same context, and audio lags can cause participants to perceive those on the video call as less attentive and conscientious.
Despite the woes, researcher Nancy Baym says not everything should be blamed on technology. After all, it’s difficult to tease out our technology fatigue from that contributed to simply living through a pandemic.
“Anything that’s different, even if you like it, requires some amount of adjustment,” Baym, who has been studying online interaction since the early 1990s, tells Fortune magazine. “I imagine that if we keep this up over time, the kinds of complaints that people have will change.”
In the meantime, there are things we can do to minimize the digital drain we’re experiencing. Here are 5 ways to reduce video chat fatigue, as suggested by the Harvard Business Review:
- Avoid multitasking
- Build in breaks, or even be mindful within a video chat. Lower those shoulders and breathe deeper.
- Reduce on-screen stimuli
- Make virtual social events optional
- Switch to phone calls or email
In our desire – and need – to connect with each other, it’s important to remember that we’re still in the very early stages of video conferencing as our primary means of workplace communication. Understanding how to find ways for technology to work best for us will be an important part to combatting the fatigue.
Xpan develops digital learning solutions for companies globally. From design to deployment, our team is making heroes of Learning and Development Officers and contributing to the worldwide number of individuals improving their workplace experience (and lives) with better learning.