Study by Stanford: Zoom Fatigue Phenomenon and How to Deal with It

In today's world, people are always on the go. And with technology making it easier to be productive from anywhere, workers are often required to be available for meetings and work-related tasks outside of the real or home office. While this newfound flexibility is great for work effectiveness, it has led to a condition known as Zoom fatigue - a phenomenon in which employees feel exhausted after a day of Zoom meetings. So what can you do to combat Zoom fatigue and stay productive? In this article, we'll reveal all the darkest secrets of this frustrating problem and provide you with some useful tips on how to successfully avoid it.

Study by Stanford: Zoom Fatigue Phenomenon and How to Deal with It

Zoom fatigue defined

In this era of information overload, it's not hard to feel "Zoom fatigue". Constant distraction and notifications from email, social media, and other online tools can leave us overwhelmed and exhausted. A recent study by researchers at Stanford University sheds light on this issue and offers some helpful tips for dealing with it.

The study found that:

In-person meetings are what make our brains feel happy

Virtual meetings make the reward regions of the brain show less activity than during face-to-face conversations. Our brain interprets video calls as something strange: closer distance, unnaturally sized heads, constant eye contact from dozens of screens. It's far different from the way we normally interact with other people in real life.

It's easier to get distracted when communicating virtually

We've all been there. You're in the middle of an important Zoom meeting, and your thoughts begin to wander. Suddenly you realize you have no idea what the person you're talking to has just said. The study found that people are more likely to lose concentration during a video call, and they're also less likely to remember what was said.

Interacting through the screen makes it hard to engage with other people

Despite the many advantages of screen-based interaction, the study revealed its major downsides. Various video and audio delays, lack of ability to maintain eye contact, misinterpretation of body language, and other virtual obstacles decrease our interaction with people in a video conference.

Our brain is forced to do more work to restore the lost context

When we take part in a large meeting with dozens of participants, our brains can't receive and process all the nonverbal cues sent by others. This means our cognitive load is maximized in order to more fully absorb the information we are missing.

Watching yourself on the screen is terribly tiring

When people are forced to watch themselves, they quickly become fatigued. This happens because the brain has to work harder to process the visual information gained from self-view. Watching yourself during remote meetings is not only tiring, but it can also be distracting. You may find yourself concentrating more on your appearance than on the conversation at hand. This can lead to missed opportunities and poor communication.

What are the symptoms of Zoom fatigue?

Zoom fatigue is real and it manifests in many ways, from feeling overwhelmed to struggling to focus. If you think you might be experiencing this kind of mental fatigue, check out its most common symptoms.

Exhaustion and burnout

One of the most common signs of Zoom fatigue is feelings of exhaustion, burnout, and even depression. The forced need to always be online and ready to participate in a video chat can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. So when you feel extremely tired after a day of video conferencing and this feeling doesn't go away the next morning, then it's time to take a break from Zoom.

Irritability and frustration

Zoom fatigue can also cause irritability and frustration during and after long video calls. Symptoms include feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, feelings of being rushed or not having enough time, and general irritation.

Eyestrain and headaches

If you experience pain in your eyes or head after using Zoom, it may not be a coincidence. Frequent back-to-back meetings via Zoom can cause eyestrain and headaches because it's an intense visual experience. Our eyes need time to adjust back to regular light after using Zoom.

Other symptoms to be aware of:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Decreased ability to focus
  • Reduced motivation
  • Turning off the camera during video conferences
  • Higher self-evaluation and criticism

How to combat Zoom fatigue and stay productive?

Forget about multitasking

Even though remote work has become quite a popular way to earn a living these days, it comes with certain hardships. When we work at home, almost everything distracts us - from children yelling at the neighbor to a cozy bed that beckons for a little rest.

One great way to keep being focused and combat Zoom fatigue is to avoid distractions. And multitasking is one of them.

Why multitasking doesn't work? Because it tires our brain. Cyntia Kubu, neuropsychologist, says that people are monotaskers, which means we can do only one task at a time. When we're trying to do several tasks at once, this works as task-switching.

But you can argue with that. "Isn't a Zoom calling the best time to check emails or deadlines on projects?" Well, no. This will only distract you from the call and while you're checking your email or answering your mum, you'll miss important information.

Make video sessions shorter

A recent study showed that the average American spent 7 hours and 4 minutes every day looking at a screen. Given how prevalent screens are in our lives, it's no wonder so many of us suffer from eye fatigue, neck pain, and shoulder pain. And if you think Zoom calls are any better than regular video calls, you're wrong. They can be just as long and tiring, especially if you're trying to have a productive meeting.

Not many people want to spend a few extra hours staring at a screen, while you're hosting an all-staff meeting. As a result, it's important to make video calls shorter and more manageable for the viewers. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Prepare in advance all the materials you need to stay focused on the agenda.
  2. Keep the call to a reasonable length - no more than 30 minutes.
  3. Make sure the video and audio are high quality and there are no pixelated images.
  4. Make sure you're in a quiet space without any distractions.
  5. Allow meeting recordings so that everyone who is not able to join a meeting or has to leave it earlier has a chance to catch up with it later.

Hide self-view

As we mentioned earlier, watching yourself on a screen can be extremely distracting. So another simple way to fight Zoom fatigue is to hide your own video feed on the screen. This will help you focus on the conference content and not be distracted by your surroundings. To do this, simply mute your microphone, turn off the camera, and hide your self-view in the settings menu.

Do short breaks

Sometimes you just have to arrange long-lasting virtual meetings. To make them less stressful, tiring, and more engaging, just give participants short breaks. Moreover, it will be a good idea to allow attendees to turn their cameras off when they want to do that.

If your work involves a couple of short and long conferences every day, you can fight Zoom fatigue by following the same technique: take short breaks every hour or two to move, talk to someone in person, and just look away from the screen.

The research posted in Psychology Today proves the fact that breaks are essential for lowering the stress and exhaustion level. Short walks between tasks refill your mental resources, refresh your mind, and can even bring "aha moments" more often.

Avoid busy backgrounds

Have you ever spent half of a video meeting trying to figure out what it is on your colleague's shelf? Or what is the name of the book next to their TV? You might miss half the conversation that way!

That's why it's crucial to choose the right background for video meetings.

  • It should be neat and clean, with as few distracting elements as possible
  • Choose quiet and light places, not a cafe with people moving in the background
  • Apply virtual backgrounds or use blurring effects

Ask before hosting a video call

Virtual social sessions can foster your team collaboration, build closer relationships between employees, and help people get to know each other better. But on the other hand, frequent and long online calls can cause Zoom fatigue.

So when organizing a virtual event, think about other people. For some participants, it may be just another opportunity to keep in touch, but for others, it may provoke fatigue or social anxiety. And instead of spending some time off-screen, they are forced to reappear on the Zoom call. And we haven't mentioned the differing impact on introverts and extroverts yet.

What should you do in this case? Just send a personal invitation and wait for a response. A well-thought-out invitation sent in advance is always better than a sudden video call.

Don't make Zoom your #1 solution

When someone invites you on a video call, chances are that it will take place on Zoom. After all, it's the most popular platform for one-on-one and group calls. No doubt, Zoom is a great web conferencing tool, but it's not the be-all and end-all of conference calling and virtual communication. No one has forgotten about traditional email clients and messengers that remain one of the fastest and most reliable communication channels.

These days, awareness of Zoom fatigue has forced many developers to look for solutions to effectively combat it. Hence, revolutionary AI-driven apps, just like Whoosh, appear on the market.

Whoosh: your powerful cure

We are an AI-driven video meeting app that will help you get over Zoom fatigue. Too many meetings? Feeling drained after hours of interacting with people online? Don't have time for all the extra prep work that goes into conferences? Whoosh is here to help! With our app, you can easily take control of your meeting schedule and find the right time for you to have a conference call.

Our key solutions

AI assistance

If your schedule is filled with meetings, calls, and appointments and you don't know where to fit one more conference, our smart assistant can help. Whoosh syncs with your calendar and offers perfect time slots for your next meeting, all while keeping your rest time in mind. With us, you'll be able to have productive video calls that are easy and convenient to schedule.

Touch-up features

Whoosh is a breath of fresh air for business video calls. Forget about all the painful preparations you used to have to go through before an important meeting starts - now you can focus on the content of your discussion, not your appearance. With touch-up features that will make you look your best and virtual 3D backgrounds that won't distract your interlocutors, Whoosh is the perfect solution for modern professionals.

Presenter tools

With Whoosh, video calls are more fatigue-free than ever before. Our smart presenter tools allow you to share your screen in different modes, write and draw on a virtual board, and control the presentation using gesture recognition. No more worrying about whether or not you're adequately prepared - our app makes presenting a breeze.

Full-HD video calls

When you're online, quality is paramount. No meeting can be productive with fuzzy or pixilated images. That's why on Whoosh we offer video conferencing in true Full-HD quality, no matter what plan you subscribe to or how long your conversation lasts. Plus, with our fast and easy-to-use interface, you can start a meeting in seconds.

Enhanced sound

With Whoosh, your team can focus on productive work instead of worrying about poor sound quality. All of your calls are provided with powerful noise-canceling technology to prevent any delays due to annoying distractions. What's more, with audio stream splitting, you can divide the meeting into groups to keep each one working on their project or task without disturbing each other.

Upscale web security and support

Whoosh is a video call platform that provides secure, compliant, and easy-to-use video conferencing for business professionals. Our platform features multiparty encryption, host controls, and 24/7 support to ensure that your calls are always safe and secure. With Whoosh, you can be confident that your confidential information is protected at all times.

No more worries about struggling with Zoom fatigue - with Whoosh, you can take back your time and focus on what's important: the meeting itself.

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