Beat Back Zoom Fatigue

Before COVID-19 sent some workers home earlier this year, working remotely was uncharted territory for many employees. Communicating with colleagues has been more challenging without the ability to swing by a coworkers’ office for a quick chat. Instead, we’re forced to navigate the demands of virtual communication.

“When it comes to video chats, we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone of the voice and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy,” Gianpiero Petriglieri told the BBC. This has left a lot of employees and employers exhausted as they jump from one Zoom or Teams call to the next.

Here are a few ways to encourage your employees to stay connected while not becoming overwhelmed by Zoom fatigue:

  1. Give yourself a buffer. Schedule your meetings for 50 minutes instead of an hour, suggests this flyer of helpful hints from Vanderbilt Faculty and Staff Health & Wellness. This strategy gives everyone a 10-minute cushion to reset and take a quick mental break before the next call.
  2. Switch to email or chat. Ask yourself, “Could this video call take place another way?” According to a recent Forbes article, if the answer to that question is “Yes,” consider exchanging information with stakeholders via email, chatting via your system’s instant messenger function or simply calling the other person. Sometimes a phone call is less stressful and a faster way to get the details you need to finish a project.
  3. Change it up. Try a different room in your home. If it’s a nice day and there’s not too much noise, move outside for one of your calls if appropriate. A change of scenery or fresh air can clear out the cobwebs.
  4. Come with a plan. Develop an agenda for the video meeting—and try to include time for a few minutes of socializing. A schedule will keep the meeting on track and make the most of everyone’s time.
  5. Set boundaries and take breaks. Place 15-minute blocks on your calendar dedicated to breaks. The breaks will not only give you a needed respite, but they will help you come back to your projects with fresh eyes. And during longer video calls, take mini breaks “by minimizing the window, moving it to behind your open applications or just looking away from your computer completely for a few seconds now and then,” suggests an article in Harvard Business Review.