The coronavirus pandemic has altered how we live, work, and stay in touch with loved ones. Many of us now wear a mask everywhere we go, work at the dining room table instead of the office, and video chat with our relatives to keep them safe. There is truly no part of our daily routine that hasn’t been altered.
To protect the health and well-being of employees, many companies have offered their teams work-from-home options in lieu of coming into the office. While the novelty of working in your yoga pants is a significant work-from-home perk, there is one aspect of the arrangement that people collectively dread: Zoom meetings.
Though Zoom meetings showcase just how far teleconferencing has come, they are no replacement for face-to-face social interaction, as we are sure the 300 million daily Zoom participants can attest to.
As many workers move into almost a full year of isolation, constant video meetings begin to take their toll.
4 symptoms of Zoom fatigue
Perhaps Zoom calls for work wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t also have video calls with our children’s teachers, the veterinarian, the doctor, and our grandparents, among others. While Zoom calls are somewhat unavoidable at this time, it can help to look out for the symptoms of Zoom fatigue so you can work to alleviate them. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Feeling drained after work. Between staring at a screen, technical glitches, and constant distractions (hello coworker’s screaming toddler), Zoom meetings feel like more work, and they can wear you out. Additionally, virtual communication makes it harder to read people’s emotions and puts added stress on our brain, trying to interpret it all.
- Losing focus during meetings. It is easier to “zone out” during video meetings, especially if there are many participants since your body language and posture are not apparent. There is also the option to turn off your video and more temptation to multi-task.
- Eye strain. During Zoom meetings, especially smaller ones, participants feel pressured to look straight into the camera to avoid appearing as though they are not paying attention to the speaker. In contrast, in a face-to-face meeting, it is more acceptable to vary your gaze.
- Burnout. Working from home removes many of the positive aspects of workplace culture and can lead to burnout over time. With no team lunches, holiday parties, or volunteer work retreats, work tends to feel monotonous and never-ending. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and a lack of motivation to do one’s job. Zoom meetings, especially unproductive ones, can further drive a once-thriving employee into the burnout zone.
With no team lunches, holiday parties, or volunteer work retreats, work tends to feel monotonous and never-ending. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and a lack of motivation to do one’s job.
How to alleviate symptoms
It’s clear that Zoom meetings are not going away anytime soon, and though they offer their fair share of negatives, they are also one of the best forms of virtual communication out there.
There are many helpful things we can all do to alleviate our Zoom fatigue, including:
- Take breaks. Break up your meetings by walking around the block, getting a quick workout in, or playing fetch with your dog. Avoid scheduling back-to-back meetings when possible, and try to hide your reflection of yourself, so you aren’t continually self-monitoring or worrying about how you look.
- Remain present. Stop answering emails, checking Facebook, or doing your work during your Zoom calls. The more we multi-task, the more we drain ourselves and the less information we can absorb during the meeting itself.
- Let your eyes rest. Whenever possible, shift your gaze. Look out the window, up, down, and side to side. Shifting your gaze off the screen ever so often can save your peepers from strain overtime. Simply explain to other participants that you are trying to avoid eye strain. They will understand, trust us!
- Prioritize your mental health. If you are experiencing burnout, it may be time to take a few vacation days. Unplugging for a few days can do wonders for your mental health. Additionally, try changing things up! Instead of a Zoom meeting, request a phone meeting or an email. Many times, things can get decided in just a few emails instead of an hour-long Zoom call. Remember you aren’t alone, and your coworkers likely feel the same way as you do. It can help to chat with them and see if they have any tips to reduce burnout.
Remember you aren’t alone, and your coworkers likely feel the same way as you do. It can help to chat with them and see if they have any tips to reduce burnout.
We’re all in this together
It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered how we operate both personally and professionally. Our routines have been flipped on their heads from constant hand washing to mask-wearing to virtual work meetings.
As of March 2020, many companies have shifted from having workers come to the office to allowing them to work from their homes. Given this shift, telecommunication tools like Zoom have become integral to workplace operations. As we enter almost a full year of the pandemic, many workers find themselves drained, unfocused, and burned out from all of the teleconferencing. Luckily, workers can combat these symptoms by taking breaks, remaining present, and prioritizing their mental health.