With the coronavirus lockdown easing, we are all looking forward to being able to meet up with friends and family again. But we’re not out of the woods yet. There is still some way to go before our social lives can return to normal. If you’re like the vast majority of the UK population, you have no doubt experienced the joys of video conference calls, using programs such as Skype, Facetime and the increasingly popular Zoom.
People all across the country are participating in online quiz nights, business meetings, and even speed dating events. There seems to be no limit to what we can do with a simple laptop camera and microphone. Why did we ever bother leaving the house at all?
It seems like a convenient solution to an inconvenient situation, but some people are starting to tire of the continuous conference calls and weekly catch-ups. The nation is succumbing to what is known as “Zoom fatigue.”
Zoom fatigue refers to the draining feeling that comes with prolonged use of videoconferencing tools. This feeling of tiredness comes for several reasons.
- Communicating remotely requires you to focus more intently on conversations, as much is lost in the absence of face-to-face communication and body language, not to mention the effects of poor audio and video quality.
- Video conferencing allows you to be more distracted, as you can much more easily glance at your phone or check email without anyone on the other end knowing. This means you have to work harder to catch up with what’s going on in the conversation.
- When staring at a screen, you blink less frequently, which can make the eyes dry and irritated.
- When all eyes in a conversation are on you, this constant gaze can make you feel uncomfortable and anxious.
- Staring at yourself on a screen can lead to obsessive worrying about your appearance and how other participants may perceive it.
It’s clear then that group conference calls are no substitute for genuine human connection. Still, they are nevertheless sometimes necessary to keep business going as usual or to catch up with distant friends and family. In light of this, what can we do to avoid the adverse effects of Zoom fatigue?
Avoid distractions: Trying to do multiple things at worse seems like a productivity hack, but it actually makes your brain less effective at completing tasks. Close tabs, switch off your phone and engage solely in the conversation.
Take breaks: Minimise fatigue by taking regular short breaks from long calls to rest your eyes and stretch your legs.
Switch up mediums: If too frequent video calls are draining you, try to switch communication to email or phone call where you can.
Adjust how your Zoom call looks: Obsessing over your appearance isn’t healthy. Change the layout of your conference call so you can’t see your face.
Say no: If an invitation to a virtual social event makes you anxious, don’t be afraid to say no. Everyone is under a lot of pressure, and your loved ones won’t think any less of you.
In these challenging times, it’s difficult to balance the need for human connection with the strain that our limited technology puts us under. It may just be a matter of finding the right tools. There are many solutions available to make remote communication more effective. Find out more, here.