One of the things that will remain is our increased use of video conferencing, due to increased numbers of people working remotely or from home. While people will adjust to this over time, some will no doubt have a more difficult time than others. One of the issues people are facing is virtual fatigue, also known as Zoom fatigue.
In our current blog series, we’re continuing to investigate what causes this phenomenon, and also what you can do to help to prevent it or minimise its effects, both for yourself and for your colleagues.
We’re using to seeing ourselves in a mirror, but video chat can sometimes be quite different. For the purposes of communication and clarity, we often need to be able to see what we are showing to the other people in the video call. This means having a duplicate of our own video stream up on screen. This can often make people incredibly self-conscious – in a typical conversation, of course, you don’t see yourself. It can make people incredibly self-critical and the pressure to present yourself as perfectly as you want to can be exhausting.
Everyone is aware that facial expressions, body language and gestures don’t often translate well over video, and lots of people try (consciously or subconsciously) to exaggerate their reactions in order to help get their point across or to show their feeling on a given topic. This act of overcompensating in itself can also be exhausting, as people are constantly aware of how they are reacting and being seen by others – although, in reality, the other participants in the conversation are often less focused on these small details than one might think.
One of many useful things to come from this particular technology is that it has increased the level of contact that people have with those who find it difficult to meet in person, for whatever reason. Whether a physical disability, a form of social anxiety or even just physical distance, the increasing prevalence and development of video conferencing and collaboration tools has made life easier for many people. Those who struggle to meet people face-to-face sometimes struggle less if that contact is remote. Not just for work or educational purposes, but for doctors’ appointments and therapy sessions, socialising and other events in general.
Online platforms have seen an increase in interest, more video resources are also now available, for example, for those wanting to learn a new skill or get fit at home. Accessibility has been improved and increased.
On a broader level, some of the events of the COVID-19 lockdowns have also made some people and organisations take both the physical and mental wellbeing of their colleagues, students or employees, or perhaps even themselves more seriously, with many new initiatives launched and projects funded, and an increase in numbers of people accessing services online to improve their physical or mental health.
Next week, we’ll have a look at some of the ways you and your organisation can help to minimise the effects of zoom fatigue – and look at some of the alternatives.