How to Beat Zoom Fatigue

Zoom fatigue is real.

According to researchers at the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, all that time you’re spending on Zoom or video calls is wearing you out at a much quicker rate than traditional face-to-face meetings.

Jeremy Bailenson and his team of researchers found four key reasons for Zoom fatigue:

1. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact

Unlike in traditional face-to-face meetings, on video calls everyone is looking at everyone all of the time, and typically at a closer eye-to-eye distance, given how close people tend to sit to their screens. This presents us with a much more intense cognitive experience.

2. Seeing yourself on camera is fatiguing

Imagine someone was following you around all day with a mirror. That’s essentially what it’s like on video calls — we tend to spend too much time focusing on our appearance instead of the speaker, and for the more self-conscious among us, it can become incredibly taxing mentally.

3. Video calls dramatically reduce our usual mobility

Whereas phone calls allow us to ‘walk n talk’, most video calls demand that we sit still, in one location, and plan our day around our video calls.

4. Cognitive load is higher in video calls

The typical non-verbal cues we pick up on in traditional face-to-face communication are not as obvious when it comes to video calls. Our brains need to work overtime to both send and receive non-verbal signals.

Solutions to Zoom Fatigue

Fortunately, there are several quick fixes to the abovementioned challenges.

  1. Get out of full-screen mode and sit further back from your screen.
  2. Hide self-view.
  3. Use audio-only calls instead where sufficient (WhatsApp or good old fashioned phone calls might suffice here)
  4. Turn away from the screen from time to time during video calls.
  5. Don’t have a meeting if you don’t really need to — more on why most Zoom calls are a waste of time here.

When it comes to remote work, most organizations are still at level 2 in the 5 levels of remote work.

Many are simply recreating the traditional office online, along with all of its shortcomings — back-to-back meetings and email overload.

Learning when to use video calls and when not to use video calls will go a long way to getting them further up the pyramid, because let’s face it, life’s too short to spend entire days in back-to-back Zoom calls, and most meetings don’t need to happen.