BERLIN: It seems Zoom fatigue is to remain with us as long as the pandemic is – perhaps even longer. As the offices around the world continue with a hybrid work culture during the pandemic, hours of daily video chat with colleagues is draining workers everywhere.
If the entire working day is packed with video chat – notoriously more tiring than real-world meetings – then it’s virtually guaranteed you’ll be exhausted by the end of the day, says Christina Heitmann, a psychologist who specialises in workplace health.
Studies have shown that Zoom fatigue is caused, among other things, by the fact that you are required to sit still for hours in front of a camera pointed at your face, says Heitmann.
It’s also stressful to constantly see yourself on the screen and feel like you are also being watched at the same time. The lack of small talk and frequency of technical problems also don’t make things easier.
Concentration problems, impatience, irritability and even headaches and back pain are the kinds of issues that typically emerge after the days, weeks and months of continuous online meetings that have accompanied remote work during the pandemic, according to doctors.
If you feel like endless video chats are draining you, try to change how you use this software.
Don’t look at your own face: If you’re distracted by constantly seeing your own face on your screen, you can also change the screen view.
Video conferencing platforms used during the pandemic have left millions examining their wrinkles, and researchers have shown this leads to body dissatisfaction and has caused a “Zoom boom” in cosmetic surgery.
Usually the settings will allow you to hide your own video. If it’s easier, you can simply cover it with a Post-it. Zoom and other video chat tools also let you switch to a mode where you only see who is speaking, not a collage of all participants.
Structure your meetings: In order not to leave your video chat (be it on Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Jitsi) completely exhausted, make sure these meetings are well prepared and structured. Heitmann says good moderation can go a long way, as can sufficient breaks in between.
Another problem in online meetings is people just switching off, especially if the meeting is a long one or seems directionless.
“An agenda is extremely helpful for this,” says Nora Grasselli, leadership training coach at the European School of Management and Technology, a private university in Berlin.
“Every agenda item should have a time code so that everyone involved knows: At what point are we and where should we be?”
Cut it short: It is also important to keep meetings as short as possible. Events that would have lasted a whole day as face-to-face meetings are better off divided into shorter intervals over several days when held online.
Just do audio: In some meetings, you and other participants may want to leave your cameras off, especially if you’re all going to be watching a presentation by someone else.
Grasselli argues that we should even consciously pick between audio meetings and video chat every single time.
After all, it can be hard to relax if you’re worrying about whether or not you look good. The fact that Zoom puts a live feed of your own face in front of you can make it hard to concentrate on what's being said. – dpa