Feeling burned out from using Zoom? You're not alone.
If you’re finding yourself with less motivation and energy during your calls, you’re not alone. We use apps such as Zoom to conduct remote work and online classes. One year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the distinction between work and life has blurred. Before the pandemic, you commuted to your office, worked all day, and went home to decompress. Nowadays, you’ll find yourself sitting at your laptop for several hours at a time.
Zoom fatigue is “the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication”. Jeremy Bailenson describes this sudden shift in our work as “[...] a transformation in that we went from rarely video-conferencing to video-conferencing [...] frequently and without knowing the parameters of what the costs and benefits are.”²
Describing Zoom fatigue as exhaustion from calls would be oversimplifying the matter. Video calls are often exhausting because of “an excessive amount of direct eye gaze as people look at other faces close-up.”²
Users must remain stationary, thus requiring more cognition to stay focused². The potential for distraction is also high because you are distracted by objects in people’s backgrounds. Similarly, you may be tempted to check your email or respond to a quick message⁴.
Despite all this, you can manage Zoom fatigue yourself. For example, you may be tempted to attempt to multitask during a call. You shouldn’t do this because your rate of productivity is reduced by 40% because you use different parts of your brain for different tasks⁴. Although the temptation of distraction and multitasking is hard to resist, the benefits of putting away your phone or waiting to respond to that email outweigh those of immediately responding⁴.
You may feel too fatigued to take part in another group conference or one-on-one session. If you feel this way, you can “ask [...] to switch to a phone call or suggest picking up the conversation later”⁴. Similarly, your team may be hosting a virtual happy-hour social event; everyone is drained after a day of back-to-back video calls. This is especially true of introverts, who thrive on alone time to recharge. Because of this, these virtual social events should be optional for people to attend to prevent excess fatigue⁴.
The biggest factor of Zoom fatigue is the excess, unnecessary stimuli. The potential distractions in people’s backgrounds only creates more work for our brains. To counter this, users should use a plain virtual background or turn off their cameras when they aren’t speaking⁴.
COVID-19 has drastically changed the workplace as well as how we work and communicate, and while we may have adjusted to working remotely, we are all still trying to navigate through communicating through Zoom and video calls without burning out. Helping your colleagues manage Zoom fatigue will not only benefit them, but everyone around them and therefore improve the quality of their work⁴.
Walsh, Kathleen. “Zoom Fatigue: How to Politely Decline a Call During Quarantine.” The New York Times, 20 May 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/20/smarter-living/coronavirus-zoom-facetime-fatigue.html. Accessed 8 March 2021.
Firozi, Paulina, and Allyson Chiu. “Four reasons you’re tired of Zoom calls — and what to do about it.” The Washington Post, 3 March 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/03/03/stanford-zoom-fatigue/. Accessed 8 March 2021.
Lee, Jena. “A Neuropsychological Exploration of Zoom Fatigue.” Psychiatric Times, 17 November 2020, https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychological-exploration-zoom-fatigue. Accessed 8 March 2021.
Follien, Liz, and Molly West Duffy. “How to Combat Zoom Fatigue.” Harvard Business Review, 29 April 2020, https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-to-combat-zoom-fatigue#:~:text=How%20to%20Combat%20Zoom%20Fatigue%201%20Avoid%20multitasking.,if%20you%20don%E2%80%99t%20know%20each%20other%20well. Accessed 9 March 2021.