Only YOU Can Prevent Zoom Fatigue!

March 23, 2021
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Stanford Research Explains How It Affects Us. Can Your Best Ideas Help to Reverse its Effects?

We’ve created a virtual, collaborative world as a way to continue working through a pandemic. Brilliant! Ironically, however, we’re preventing a disease that causes extreme fatigue (among much worse possible outcomes) with a solution that also causes fatigue. But being the innovators we all are, we’ll overcome the effects of Zoom fatigue too. Virtually.

But first, here’s what the Stanford research (that everyone’s been talking about) tells us:

  1. We must work harder to send and receive accurate physical cues: The cognitive load of managing a process that would happen naturally in person is heavy in a virtualized environment. In boxes on a screen, we have to worry that small gestures can be seen, that we’re not centered in the frame correctly, or that people are missing the visual cues we’re showing as they scan their screens and we have to repeat them. Once in a while, we do something we worry can be misinterpreted, such as a sidelong glance or a yawn. Now we’ve got to correct for a possible misunderstanding.

Now that we’re all super-conscious of every facial tic and every bodily movement, and what these signals may convey about our interest and attention levels and attitudes, how can we deal more effectively with this fatiguing aspect of online meetings. Share a creative solution or two with us on Facebook!

76% of professionals say they participate in virtual meetings, and report spending 30% of their workday on camera with business contacts or colleagues.

  • Seeing ourselves as we engage is mentally taxing: It’s unnatural and unnerving to be looking at ourselves as we’re engaging with others. Seeing our own reflection, especially when its’ continuous, causes us to become self-critical. There are negative consequences to seeing ourselves too much in a condensed time frame, including reinforcing poor self-images and becoming too focused on our appearances. Strangely enough, most people tend to like the way they appear in the mirror and have a distaste for how they appear on camera.

So give us your best solutions to this problem. We know you can use the “hide self-view” button, but let’s hear some creative alternatives!

38% of professionals have experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic; 26% note that the practicality and novelty of videoconferencing has worn off; and 24% confirm they find virtual meetings inefficient and exhausting. 

  • Intense eye contact for prolonged time periods is stressful: In real meeting rooms, we don’t continually scan the room, looking at people who aren’t speaking, but that’s exactly what we do in virtual conference meetings. We’re scanning all of the faces, and each of the faces is scanning us. We may not even be conscious at the threshold of perception, but beneath that threshold, we still subconsciously feel like we’re being watched… scrutinized! Our brains interpret it as an intense situation that could potentially lead to conflict. It’s a hyper-aroused state that can cause cortisol, the stress hormone, to be released in our brains. Then when we really do have to speak and the other attendees are more focused on us, the intensity level rises!

There are all kinds of potential creative solutions to this problem. Let’s hear your best ideas, aside from the obvious solution of wearing a mask.

27% of professionals participating in video calls report they are “trying to pay attention, but often zoning out.”

  • Videoconferencing is physically constraining: When we’re conducting in-person meetings, we move from the blackboard to a podium, and around the room if we’re really comfortable. When we’re speaking with a camera directed at us, we’re stationary. Of course, the non-speakers are just as stationary, and can’t easily get up to get a cup of coffee as they would in a teleconference. So the cameras are like glue on our seats, reducing our mobility.

It’s not natural to feel physically constrained, and it’s an impediment to our ability to perform cognitively. It can also cause anxiety and stress. So what can we do to overcome this cause of Zoom fatigue? We’re confident you’ll have a clever solution to this problem too!

Videoconferencing, like remote work, is here to stay. But hopefully Zoom fatigue is just a growing pain as we acclimate to video calls in the early stages of this transition. Based on the conversations we’ve had with our clients and candidates, we’ve heard some great ideas that give us optimism for putting Zoom fatigue in our rear view mirrors. Please share your best solutions to these problems with us on Facebook!