Zoom tired you out? You are not alone

During pandemic, most of us had to engage in virtual conversations more often than ever – no matter which platform we use – Zoom, Teams, or Skype. You may have noticed that in the long run it started to be frustrating but weren’t sure – if it’s the result of virtual chats, or maybe just quarantine in general. 

Although the pandemic is constantlyrevolving around – we still hear how many people are infected both in our country and in the world – even though there’s no quarantine in Lithuania now and we can meet people to discuss any issue live. Then the comparison comes – how it was then and how it is now, perhaps, how it can happen again at any time. 

Now we are returning to the offices with joy, longing for human communication and just a little worried about the possibility to work from home in the autumn, where again we should look for a quiet and enclosed place.

Also, we are still worried about the platforms that would be mandatory to use. And that anxiety is perfectly justified.

Despite the comfort of online platforms, we have a new phenomenon – Zoom fatigue. Do you also feel tired? Did you think it only gets you? You are not alone.

While we can make business calls from any bed in the house, we still feel an inexplicable feeling – so what is “Zoom fatigue” and why do we feel it.

First of all, video chats need more attention and concentration. According to Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at INSEAD, video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language – paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy.

Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor at Clemson University, says that if we are physically on camera, we are very aware of being watched. Therefore, we can feel as if we are on stage. We have heard about the fear of the stage many times and here – even if we are not performers or actors – during the quarantine we could feel social pressure, fatigue and tension as if we need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful. 

Video conferencing could have caused another unexpected feeling in our normal way of life – confusion over social roles. Gianpiero Petriglieri points out that we usually meet with colleagues, parents, friends, or teachers in different places. But that’s not what happened during the quarantine – everything happened in the same place, in the same room. Pandemic restricted our freedom of movement and the only way to contact the outside world was through the computer screen.

The good news is that we can reduce Zoom fatigue for at least a little bit. It is important to deliberately limit video calls to the necessary ones. Do not use the camera unless absolutely necessary, and if it’s mandatory but you feel uncomfortable – try using the screen from the side, rather than right in front of yourself – constantly observing yourself is not very interesting. Try to avoid information overload.