Zoom fatigue is real, brought about by all the time we’re spending on screens staring at people and pretending it’s normal, and the same as a face-to-face situation.
- Important social cues can be missed
- Workspaces are also home spaces
- It can be difficult to tell if your audience is engaged
What Is Zoom Fatigue?
Finding yourself on another Zoom or Facetime call can bring a feeling of exhaustion and dread. But why? It’s only a platform used for communication. Yes, there’s a pandemic going into the second wave of ravaging the United States. And, yes, that brings stress to a situation that would normally be more of a choice for more Americans, namely working from home. But there’s something specific to video meetings that can feel a bit unnerving.
Zoom fatigue is that discomfort brought about by too many video conference calls. And more than that, it’s the lack of direct human interaction where you can’t read people’s body language, often because there’s a slight delay between saying something and getting a reaction. So it can be difficult to really gauge another person’s interest or attention to what you’re saying. Are they frozen? Are they angry? Oh, no, their screen had a glitch but now they’re nodding.
This means you aren’t getting immediate feedback to your statement. It can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember this when you’re giving feedback, too. There can be a delay in your responses to other people’s statements.
Stepping Away From The Screen
It can be difficult to navigate the ways of the changing work world, especially as so many companies are not going back into the office until the beginning of 2021 at the earliest. There are lots of resources you can look into, to find information, learn new skills, and reinforce what you already know, besides calling for face front meetings.
If you feel that you and your team are suffering zoon fatigue, try having a different kind of information sharing session. Send a powerpoint deck with quick bullet points, or send a voice message just sharing a salient point or two. Send the links to an article your team could benefit from reading. Or ask them to come to the meeting after they’ve read it, and see what gets them excited to share.
Another reason zoom fatigue can set in is because you’re trying to control all of the distractions going on in your home or remote work location. Pets, children, partners, all passing in the background can lead to concern that something will look inappropriate. Maybe your house looks like an Instagram dream home. But maybe it looks like you live there, which means there’s cobwebs you haven’t gotten to clean in a corner. Or the kitchen, which doubles as the office on days when the kids have virtual learning, has a wall covered in the kids’ artwork.
And you know what? You have to give yourself and your coworkers a little grace. While there may be some cosmetic changes you decide to make, you shouldn’t have to revamp your entire house to suit the tastes of others. Your home is your home all the time, and your office only during work hours.
Corporate wisdom suggests allowing for a bit of time in the beginning of meetings for people to talk to one another, catch up on information, and socialize. Is that really necessary for zoom meetings? Common wisdom shows one or two participants speak in the meetings, all the time, and many, many members are only watching. And this can make an awkward experience for everyone.
Next, how long should your meetings be? It really depends on what you’re trying to cover and convey. But never make meetings longer than they have to be. Many people have only recently begun the adventure of being online all day, every day. They may not have the stamina to stare at the Brady Bunch-looking screen for hours at a time. And are you expecting participants to take notes? College professors have suggested only 20 minutes out of any hour are when students are actively listening and concentrating on the material at hand. As adults, we should know better than to expect full attention for the whole duration of a two hour call.
Zoom Fatigue And You
If you’re the one in charge of meetings, try limiting the number of participants, the length of time, and the number of topics covered. If you’re handling HR for a Fortune 500 company and want actual feedback, schedule small breakout sessions where you can hear more people, and really listen to their ideas. If you’re only looking to impart information, you can schedule your giant zoom call accordingly, and generate feedback or solicit questions in other ways.
When you’re overwhelmed by zoom fatigue it’s easy enough to rectify, if you’re willing. Step away from the computer screen and give yourself and your team members a break. Because chances are that if you’re feeling the strain, your team is, too.