Are you experiencing virtual fatigue? Here are the main symptoms and effective solutions
Do you feel drained after a video call? Are you more irritable after a long day going from one visio meeting to another? You are probably experiencing Zoom fatigue. Actually, many of us do as remote work has exploded since the pandemic. While it is here to stay, Zoom burnout is a real thing.
What is it? Also called ‘virtual fatigue,’ this slang term is used to talk about online exhaustion. We can experience it when our presence is constantly required for digital communication. The first step is to acknowledge it by being aware of the symptoms. The second step is to adopt some solutions to overcome this phenomenon. Even though we may need time to get used to it, humans are a species that easily adapt to changes.
Because employee well-being should be one of your top priorities, this article aims to help you and your workers embrace remote work in a healthy manner. You will not only learn about the signs of virtual exhaustion but also about the solutions to decrease one of the few negative consequences of video conferencing technologies.
Symptoms of virtual fatigue
Physical symptoms of video conferencing
Working on a screen can already have some health implications such as bad posture or migraines. But now, working from home is part of many employees’ lives and they sometimes don’t even take a moment to stretch between video calls. When coming to the office, your team members are facing real people, not a screen. This makes a huge difference from a physical and a mental point of view.
Home office workers don’t walk from one meeting room to another as they would do at the office. They are therefore more likely to remain immobile for a few hours. Staying in the same position for a long period of time can lead to muscular pain, including back and neck pain. When at home, your collaborators may switch from one meeting to another without taking a break. Time flies and four hours later, or more, they realise they haven’t moved at all and are totally stiff.
Second, our eyes are not made to look at a multi-person screen. It increases intense close-up eye contact and stimulates the brain’s central vision much more than a physical meeting. At the end of the day, remote workers can suffer from eye irritability and blurred vision. Fortunately, some solutions exist that we will detail later in this article.
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Psychological symptoms of virtual fatigue
Have you noticed how exhausted you are when finally ending your day and closing your laptop? How many times have you rescheduled virtual meetings that are not urgent? Do you often prefer to stay on your couch instead of going for dinner with friends?
Even though the home office provides a better work-life balance and less stress, remote communication can truly drain the energy of your employees. It shouldn’t be underestimated. Communicating about the psychological symptoms of virtual fatigue is crucial as it can be one of the causes of burnout.
Three types of fatigue are commonly detected among remote teams: emotional, motivational and social. For example, irritability and loss of patience with colleagues, friends or family members can be a symptom of emotional fatigue. People suffering from motivational fatigue often struggle to concentrate more than usual. As far as employees under social fatigue are concerned, you can observe a growing feeling of frustration and a lack of social behaviour among them.
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Solutions to overcome Zoom fatigue
Turn off your video
We are a curious species so we tend to observe a lot, including what is around our colleagues. ‘Is it the same book as I am currently reading on the shelf behind Monica?’, ‘Does he really have his dog on his lap right now?’, ‘I love her lamp! I need to ask her where she bought it.’ Well, you get the idea. First, this is obviously not great for focusing, but it is also can be harmful to your eyes which are even more distracted by these onscreen stimuli. Second, constantly seeing ourselves is unnatural, and stressful and can have psychological negative consequences. Don’t request your employees to always keep the camera on and allow them to switch them off from time to time.
If you are used to reading deskbird’s blog articles, you know that adaptability in the workspace is one of our core values. Online exhaustion is one more reason for your workforce to make their schedule flexible: it can truly help them overcome Zoom fatigue. It enables your employees to plan their remote meetings according to their needs. For instance, they can choose to do them all on Mondays or only in the mornings and keep the afternoons free to focus on their tasks. Also, embracing more flexibility means allowing them to tap out. What is the point of participating in the sixth meeting of the day without being able to focus? It is simply better to reschedule it for a more appropriate time.
Checking emails, answering on the company’s chat, finishing an important task while listening to colleagues (or having the feeling to do so), we all have done it before. It is so easy to be tempted to multitask while participating in an online meeting. However, studies show that by doing several actions simultaneously your productivity decreases by 40%. Therefore, instead of gaining time, we are actually wasting it. Juggling requires much more concentration and energy than completing one mission at a time. Don’t do something else while in a meeting. Otherwise, there is a good chance that, at the end of the day, you feel completely exhausted with only a few of your duties accomplished correctly.
Plan some breaks
You may already know that the human brain is only able to stay focused for around 90 minutes. Therefore, attending a two-hour meeting and remaining concentrated is challenging for all of us. Again, what is the point if half of the audience doesn’t listen actively after a few minutes?
Second, breaks are essential for our brain, our eyes and our muscles. Encourage your leaders and their team members to plan some time during or in between meetings to rest. They can stretch, do sight exercises or have a snack. Not only does this help get our energy back, but it also reduces the risk of zoom exhaustion and increases productivity.
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Promote other means of communication
During the pandemic, video conferencing technologies were incredibly convenient for our work duties as well as for our private lives. It has provided great support to keep in touch with our colleagues and loved ones while fighting the lack of interactions. However, even though zooming is great, it is not always a must. Do you need to talk with one of your team members in order to know how a project is going? What about scheduling a phone call instead of a video call? Yet, communicating by phone, email or chat works perfectly for some types of interactions. Moreover, this is way less tiring physically (you can walk while on the phone) and mentally (you don’t need to look at your screen again).
Make video conferencing optional
A workplace culture centred on employee well-being can use remote communication tools, such as video conferencing platforms, in a positive way. They especially play a huge role in this topic for hybrid companies. It sometimes allows virtual events that aim to create a community feeling among the employees, even though they are thousands of kilometres apart. Nevertheless, this can increase the amount of zoom meeting fatigue. Consequently, it is important to inform your workforce that those online events are optional. This also goes for meetings where the presence of every single employee is not required.
Adopt a hybrid schedule
Although working from home has many benefits, this working model has pros and cons like everything in life. Online fatigue is one of them. Since remote work is here to stay, a hybrid schedule can be the ideal solution to enjoy the advantages of a home office while avoiding its downsides. Coming on-site once a week or more gives your employees the opportunity to interact in real life and spend less time on their screens.
Working from anywhere is part of the future of work. Therefore, online exhaustion can happen to us all. It is as important to know the symptoms of virtual fatigue as the solutions that can help your workers. As employee experience and well-being should be a priority for every business, communicating about this topic is key. To make hybrid scheduling a solution to overcome Zoom fatigue, request a demo of our desk booking software and discover all our employee-centric features!