During these times of quarantine, people spend much more time on video calls than ever before and most of them find it really exhausting. But what exactly tiring us out while using Zoom? Let’s try to find out.
Video chats require much more focus than face-to-face communication. We need to concentrate harder in order to process non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. The cognitive dissonance that causes conflicting feelings consumes a lot of energy. It feels exhausting because you cannot relax into the conversation naturally.
As you might experience, silence doesn’t create a natural rhythm like in a real-life conversation so it makes you feel anxious about technology. Moreover, you may feel uncomfortable because you are very aware of being watched. Being on camera can make you feel like you need to perform and cause social pressure. It’s quite nerve-wracking to be performative, isn’t it? Therefore, video chats come with extra stressors.
What’s more, in current circumstances, video calls can be a reminder of what we have lost due to the quarantine and lockdown. It can be a kind of distress when you see your colleagues online because this reminds you that you should really be at the office together. The disruption of these familiar contexts is a challenging experience.
In addition, the fact that different aspects of our lives, such as work, family, and friends—which used to be separated—are happening in the same space now. So you can’t go to the bar to meet friends or to the university to talk to a professor; you need to do it all in the same place and there’s no escape. The context of our activities has collapsed, as our social roles don’t happen in different places anymore. According to some psychological theories, when some of our context-dependent social roles are reduced, people become more vulnerable to negative feelings. Being confined in our own space is very anxiety-provoking.
According to the same studies, a lack of downtime after we’ve handled work and family commitments can also be a factor of fatigue. Even Zooming friends isn’t that relaxing because video chats may feel depersonalizing. Sometimes, video chats don’t feel like a leisure time because your power as an individual is somehow diminished.
Zoom fatigue really does exist. Is this possible to alleviate it? For sure, yes. To reduce Zoom exhaustion, try to limit video calls to only those that are necessary. Promote the understanding that cameras shouldn’t always be on throughout each meeting, make turning on the camera optional for every team member.
You could also take time during calls to catch up with colleagues before diving into the business. Reduce concern and reconnect with other people through checking their well-being. Also, set transition periods in between video meetings to refresh yourself. You could try stretching or doing a bit of exercise because moving between work makes it less tiring.