4 ways to combat zoom fatigue while working remotely.  Zoom has been an invaluable tool for keeping workforces connected throughout the pandemic, but overuse could lead to burnout. 

Remote work helps you gain back commute time and you can easily connect team members across the country through the Internet. However, after months of working remotely, more and more employees are finding themselves with a new problem: Zoom fatigue.

What is Zoom Fatigue?

Zoom fatigue, as identified and studied by researchers in places like the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, is a type of burnout associated with virtual calls.  Zoom fatigue can be caused by a number of factors, but the biggest seems to be that the cognitive load of virtual meetings is actually higher than what employees experience in-person. Workers strain to stay engaged behind a screen and interpret conversations with significantly less non-verbal cues than we do in person.

How can you avoid zoom fatigue?

Researchers have found there are four ways to combat zoom fatigue while working remotely. Try to adopt the following:

1. After meetings, take time out to rest your eyes.

Stanford researchers suggest that the increased levels of eye contact that occur during virtual meetings can feel unnatural and exhausting. So, following meetings, it’s a good idea to take a break from the screen. A walk outside, a stretch or a snack can go a long way toward giving your eyes and brain a break — just try not to trade one screen for another and avoid picking up your phone or turning on the television to unwind. You might also try a break strategy such as the 20-20-20 rule. This rule, developed by Jeffrey Anshel, states that every 20 minutes you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

2. Learn how to organize your Zoom screen to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Seeing a person up-close and face-to-face is intense, and can leave our brains feeling stressed or on-edge. So, the default speaker-view of many zoom calls may not actually be ideal. Does the intensity of looking at one person in speaker-view throw you off? Or does seeing a speaker up close help you better read their facial expressions? If your camera is on, do you fixate on yourself? Or does it help you focus to know that your coworkers can see you? Organizing the way you see yourself and others in Zoom calls may help you feel less overwhelmed and gradually reduce Zoom fatigue.  Look for tutorials to optimize your experience, just make sure you know what you want.

3. Aim to define the difference between your workspace and your home.

This can be hard to achieve when we’re literally working from home, but sometimes Zoom fatigue is simply a product of feeling like the work day never ends. Look for ways to make a clearer divide in your day. Try working from a dedicated space that helps you feel “in the office.” Consider putting on work clothes even if you don’t leave the house, just to put your best foot forward for the day.

You might also want to work set hours. This one is important, especially with regards to Zoom fatigue. Make sure your meetings have hard end times as well as start times. This keeps everyone efficient and allows you to plan your breaks with more time in advance. Take these breaks seriously and try not to schedule back-to-back meetings if you can.

4. Before you agree to Zoom, confirm that a meeting is in fact needed.

Zoom has been an amazing tool in maintaining some semblance of normalcy and connection in our workspaces. However, if you know that you or your coworkers are suffering Zoom Fatigue from constant video calls, ask yourself before your next call: Is a face-to-face meeting really the best course of action? Would detailed written instructions or an articulate email suffice? If so, maybe take a break from the Zoom altogether and opt for an approach that will allow yourself and your team members to work at your own pace.

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