“Zoom Fatigue”: The new work colleague

The Covid-19 pandemic has been bane for many and boon for some. Video calling platforms are some of the greatest winners, and companies like Zoom have seen their income multiplied, against all expert foresights.

The new reality has required great wit and a leap into the void towards the digital solution. Although this acceleration has served to save the situation for many, we are beginning to suffer some not so positive consequences. In a few months time, we will have to analyze and adjust the implementation of these tools so that their use does not work against us.

What's “Zoom Fatigue”?

This is how the term was coined by Stanford, although it encompasses all video chat platforms. It is a cumulative fatigue, increasingly common among workers who operate remotely, caused by the conditions of online meetings.

According to the University study, there are four main reasons why this situation occurs:


1. Excessive eye contact

Faces of the participants are very close to the screen, something that our brain translates to an intimate, closeness or aggressive situation. This simulation breaks away from the sense of personal space that we all need.


2. Seeing yourself constantly


It is something unnatural and comparable to spending all day in front of a mirror. This situation can be stressful and makes us more critical of ourselves.


3. Lack of mobility


We chain ourselves to the screen, to the box that is captured by the camera, affecting our comfort and physical well-being.


4. Extra cognitive load


Caused by the overexertion required to interact with our interlocutor. While face-to-face non-verbal communication solves this problem, in video calling we tend to exaggerate our reactions to let the other person know that they are paying attention 

Non-verbal communication matters a lot


A large part of the problem lies in the perception of non-verbal cues. As social beings, mastering this type of communication makes it much easier for us to establish contact and empathize with others. Among some features we can highlight: 

  • Clarity: The gestures of the face, shoulders and arms support the speech and are a plus when it comes to transmitting feelings or giving emphasis.
  • Fluidity and reciprocity: Capturing these messages from our interlocutor allows us to adapt to him or to follow his emotional line. For example, when a person inhales, they will surely intervene. Being aware of these micro-messages allows us to redirect our behavior and, continuing with the previous example, give the floor.

In a video call these abilities are affected, requiring a much more intense concentration on words. This frustration is intensified if we also face a bad connection, a poor video quality or some other failures in the platforms, such as the collapse of the sound when several people intervene at the same time.

On the other hand, the “collage” vision offered by meetings with multiple participants makes it difficult to focus attention, forcing our brain to decode several people at the same time, without obtaining anything significant from any of them.

Tiredness from video calls can be avoided


The solution seems simple. Just remove the camera whenever space allows or change the settings to avoid seeing each other. However, having the option to meet by video call does not mean that it should be used constantly. Limiting how often we connect can make a big difference to our state of mind.

Moving away from the screen and getting up from the seat, are some of the usual recommendations given by health professionals and that now take on more importance than ever, when faced with teleworking.

The rise of video calls and remote work in this new context has introduced into our lives a new way of relating to the work environment. Adapting our behaviors is essential to integrate this evolution in a healthy and balanced way.

New ways of working


With the progression of the Covid-19 situation, companies will be able to plan their return to the offices. However, the model is changing. The global shutdown has brought profound transformations, where hybrid companies seem to be imposing themselves. This means that teleworking is not going to disappear and, therefore, the use of video calling platforms either. 

Counteracting and limiting the effects of zoom fatigue is one of the challenges that we must overcome in order to maintain well-being and not see the health and efficiency of workers affected.

On the way to reducing interactions by zoom and peers, we can adopt other solutions such as space management tools, to carry out face-to-face meetings in a planned and safe way.

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