Zoom Fatigue is real and researchers from Stanford have released the first ever peer-reviewed study that backs this claim. Here are four issues and their solutions to help you battle zoom fatigue.
1. Close-up eye contact is intense
So, in a regular face-to-face meeting people are usually looking around the room, taking notes, looking at the speaker and occasionally making eye contact with each other. In that face-to-face meeting you don’t see a bunch of floating heads 12” from your own. In a Zoom meeting, you get exactly that, and it tricks our brains into thinking we’re in an extremely tense situation. Everyone is constantly staring at the screen which is drastically increasing eye contact. In this Zoom situation, everything feels much more intense than a meeting where you’re sitting around a conference table.
Solution: You can take Zoom out of full-screen mode or reduce the size of the app window. This makes faces appear smaller on screen and less intense. Another quick solution is to sit a little further away from your screen.
2. Seeing your own face all the time is exhausting
There's a big difference between glancing in the mirror a few times a day and having one held up to your face as you talk to other people.
Studies have shown that seeing yourself in a mirror can cause negative emotions. So, when you’re on back-to-back video calls, and you’re constantly forced to look at your own reflection, it can cause us to be more critical of ourselves.
Solution: You can hide yourself from view in the chat window to take a little break but also try to be easier on yourself. You look good!
3. Sitting still and talking is unnatural
In a normal meeting you may be sitting down, but you’re still able to move around a little and get comfortable. You may even be able to get up and walk around. There’s something different about having to sit in an unnatural way with your head fitting in a little square on the screen. There’s even growing research that says when people are moving, they’re thinking better.
Solution: Place more space between you and the camera. If you’re using a laptop, you can get an external keyboard to help you sit back further. Consider turning off your camera now and again to allow you to move around a little.
4. Thinking way too hard
When we talk to someone in person, non-verbal communication plays a huge part. We don’t really think about it. On a video call you’re focused on making sure your head is in the middle of the frame, how others are interpreting your facial expressions, are you doing a big enough head nod or thumbs up? All these things together are extremely taxing on our brains.
Solution: Take an “audio only” break. Turn off the camera, move your body away from the screen and take a break from having to focus so hard on your non-verbal communication.
Videoconferencing isn’t new and won’t be going away any time soon. Zoom, Teams and other similar software help us collaborate and keep the work flowing even when we can’t be physically together. As in all things, moderation is key. Sometimes you just need a break. We hope these tips help reduce your stress so you can stay happy and productive. If you have tech questions, we’re here to help!