We have all heard the term Zoom fatigue at this point in the pandemic. It can rear its ugly head at 3 pm on Tuesday when you are in your third video conference of the day, at 9 am on Wednesday when you are in a webinar about ACA reporting, or on Friday during your virtual cocktail party with your friends. You notice that your eyes are sore, you cannot focus and your exhausted from one video call after another. This is it! It comes in many different forms and it affects us all in some manner or another.
One of the most important factors contributing to Zoom fatigue is not being able to connect authentically with people. Even though our voices are together, our bodies are not. Your mind and consciousness are in a constant battle to relax into conversation naturally. In order to have eye contact with a person during a video conversation, you have to look directly into the camera. In order to receive it, you have to be looking at your screen.
Nonverbal cues in the way we listen, look, move, and react are virtually non-existent in the world of video meetings and meet ups. These cues tell the people you are communicating with whether or not you understand, agree with, or are even actively listening. On video, cues such as facial expressions and full body gestures may not be captured and can be very difficult to pick up on. Since much of the communication on these platforms are nonverbal, you are constantly searching, with limited success, to interpret such signals from multiple colleagues.
Don’t despair, there are many ways to manage your Zoom fatigue. Most require a level of self-awareness we may not be accustomed to affording ourselves prior to COVID-19.
- Before scheduling a meeting, determine the goals and your desired outcomes. Choose your method of connection based on the information you are sharing. Do you need to see everyone to connect with them? Can it be a video-free meeting? Try making video participation optional when appropriate. Having a change of scenery, walking, or sitting outside during a call often stimulates fresh thinking.
- Schedule more time between your meetings. Avoid the tendency to book back to back meetings. Give yourself time to step away from the computer, rest your eyes, stretch, or go for a walk outside, even if it is just to the mailbox.
- Keep meetings small, under 10 participants, when possible. Smaller meetings allow employees the chance to speak their mind and know that they have a voice. Especially the quieter introverts on your team.
- Consider adopting a no meeting Wednesday and no video Friday. No meeting days allow team members to focus on projects or tasks versus being in non-stop meetings. Video free Fridays convey a sense of ease and a break from staring at the computer screen. It can create balance in the workweek.
As we head into what can only be described as the busiest time of year, combined with extended Shelter in Place guidelines, allow yourself time to self-assess. If you need to disconnect or take a break to rebalance, do so. Take some deep breaths and try to find comfort knowing that we are all in this together.