Do you often find yourself exhausted at the end of your work-from-home (WFH) day? Maybe, the culprit is Zoom. Though Zoom has become influential for employees to connect during the pandemic, many people report feeling tired after having several virtual meetings a day. Over the past few months, mentions of the phrase “Zoom fatigue” have popped up more and more on Twitter, Facebook, and Google searches.
So why are video calls more tiring than the usual face-to-face meetings at the office? Psychologists link Zoom fatigue to two things that don’t translate well over our laptop screens: silence and non-verbal cues.
The absence of silence and body language
Hand gestures, facial expressions, and other non-verbal signals are an integral part of how we communicate. In face-to-face interaction, our brain processes these cues automatically. Zoom calls, however, come with glitches that don’t normally occur in real life: frozen screens, choppy sounds, and pixelated visuals. In turn, our brains need to work harder to pick up non-verbal signals and make sense of them-all while taking in tons of verbal information. Imagine doing this mental juggle for three to five times a day.
Awkward silences also make video chats exhausting. In face-to-face conversation, silence helps create a natural rhythm. Your brain can take that pause as a cue to respond, end the conversation, or steer it in a different direction. Silence doesn’t work that way in video chats. Whether you’re on a Zoom call with your close-knit team or a local search engine optimization company, you’re pressured to fill in the silence. The lack of comfortable or tolerable silence also makes you anxious about the technology, leading you to ask, “Hello! Can you hear me?” repeatedly.
But how can you deal with these two factors to stop Zoom from zapping your energy every day?
Combat Zoom fatigue with a few tweaks on your WFH setup
Zoom is not all doom. Learn to say no to these things, and you can keep your sanity after every workday.
- Every meeting needing video
Sometimes, it’s easier and less stressful to do a phone call instead of a video chat. If you’re a manager, be thoughtful about Zoom calls. Some conversations are better made through emails or Slack, anyway.
- Using your computer every video call
For some Zoom meetings, use your phone and ask not to turn on your video. This way, you can move around and prevent your brain from working too hard on picking up non-verbal signals from your screen.
- Back-to-back meetings
Again, processing too much verbal information, along with trying to figure out whether your colleague is fidgeting or just having a poor connection, can be exhausting. Say no to back-to-back meetings to give your brain a break.
- Gallery view
Shift from Zoom’s gallery view to speaker view, so you only need to focus on one person. If it’s your turn to speak and you’re uncomfortable staring at your face, you can put a post-it note on that part of a screen.
It’s tiring enough trying to make sense of all the uncertainties in the world today. You don’t need Zoom to drain your energy and sanity.