One such issue is Virtual Fatigue, which has more commonly become known as “Zoom Fatigue”. Over the next few posts, we’ll be looking at the causes and effects of Zoom Fatigue, and what you can do to help reduce its impact.
While virtual fatigue is not a new concept, the percentage of people it now affects is much larger simply because more people are using video chat to work, learn and communicate in general. There have been several studies done on its causes and effects, and we can use that knowledge to our advantage, to help ourselves and our colleagues cope with this shift in working environment.
First off, we should take a look at what causes a phenomenon such as zoom fatigue to occur. As you might expect for anything based in human psychology, there are actually a lot of reasons – some obvious, some less so. Of course, our list here is by no means exhaustive, but it contains some of the most common causes and some information about the psychology behind them.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to zoom fatigue is that many of us are used to reading nonverbal cues as part of any conversation. On a video call, facial expressions can be harder to read due to technical limitations, or things like angle and lighting. Body language and gesticulations are also harder to read, particularly if we can see nothing of the person below their head and shoulders. It’s not really possible (or feasible) to get up and walk around during a video call either. People who are used to having meetings largely in person can often struggle as their brains work overtime to try and read or infer social cues or context they’re used to receiving normally in these situations. This can lead not only to tiredness and fatigue, but also to misunderstandings and miscommunications.
Kids, pets, partners, relatives; all have the potential to interrupt a zoom session, and may cause embarrassment if they say or do something that’s out of the ordinary. While in very formal situations like an online interview or similar pets or kids may be an unwelcome interruption, in some less formal situations they can sometimes bring a welcome smile or some stress relief to other participants. Prolonged interruptions can be distracting and detrimental to work, but a brief interruption is sometimes a reminder that we’re all human, with families, pets and lives outside of what we do for a living. Worrying about and adjusting for potential embarrassment or interruption can be incredibly exhausting.
Next week we’ll have a look at some more of the reasons behind why zoom fatigue occurs – stay tuned!