Zoom fatigue is real. Too much screen time drains us both physically and emotionally. It is because this type of communication is difficult for our minds to process and understand. During a Zoom call, our minds are trying to process multiple individuals’ body language and expressions that is just not possible to do online. We also have to work harder to read people on video. As we only tend to see each other’s faces, we are unable to pick up on non-verbal cues and body language signs. The CEO of Zoom recently shared that he has 19 meetings a day and he faces Zoom fatigue as well.
Company executives talking openly about work-related stress is to be welcomed because it gives their employees the confidence to air their own concerns. Such debate about mental health issues in the workplace is also good because it encourages us to think of ways we can address contributory factors. So here are several things your employees could do to counter Zoom fatigue.
Reduce eye strain
Computer and phone screens emit blue light. For people with sensitive eyes, exposure to blue light, especially for longer periods of time, can cause eye strain and migraines.
An easy way to deal with it is to install a software on your computer that will block the blue light. F.lux is a free software for Windows and Mac that is very helpful. You can search for bluelight filter apps for your mobile phone.
Have a written meeting agenda
Meetings are easy to drag on beyond a set time if you don't have a list of items to keep you on track. Make sure there is one person for every meeting who is responsible for setting the agenda and emailing it to everyone in advance. That way your meetings will not overrun..
Do voice calls
Don't automatically assume a meeting should be a video call. Use alternate apps such as whatsapp and Slack calls in audio mode.
You can take further advantage of audio calls by walking around in your room while on calls. It changes the routine of things and may help to sharpen your thoughts and improve your mood.
Take advantage of asynchronous communication
Not every discussion needs to be a call. Use messaging apps and emails where people can respond to you in their own time. It saves them having to make on-the-spot decisions as well as reducing their screen time.
Breaks between meetings
An easy way to take breaks between meetings is to hold shorter meetings. So instead of 1 hour, schedule them for 45 minutes. Or instead of 30 minutes, schedule for 20 minutes. This allows you 10-15 minute breaks to recharge, have a cup of water/tea, and perhaps do some quick exercises like jumping jacks.
Also, if you are able to finish a meeting sooner than the scheduled time, please end the meeting then and don't feel pressured to use the full time.
Only add necessary people
Just like we don't like to be cc’d in an email and have to read comms that don't concern us, respect people's time by only adding those who are absolutely needed to be on the Zoom call.
Some organisations have started encouraging staff members to refrain from conducting any meetings on a designated day while others have opted for no video meetings on a particular day. It helps to break up the weekly routine and may help to lower stress levels.
Hide self view
Use the option of "Hide self view". This option allows others to see you on Zoom, but you cannot see yourself. It prevents what researchers call “mirror anxiety” -- anxiety stemming from self-consciousness arising from looking at yourself on the screen for a long period of time. You can do this by hovering over your video and clicking on the ellipsis button (3 dots on the right of your screen) and choose "Hide Self View".
This is much easier said than done as it is tempting to check your emails or slack messages while on a Zoom call. But research shows us that when we try to multitask, we are going to have a harder time remembering things. So do your best to close other tabs and pay attention to the Zoom call.
Every organisation will have its own way of trying to maintain the mental well being of staff. There is no one definitive approach, but what management must try to do is ensure that interventions are continuous and not stop-start. They should also be constantly reviewed to ensure that they are optimal and effective - after all, your staff are your "human capital".