9 Tips to Reduce Zoom Fatigue

February 5, 2021 | 135 views

9 Tips to Reduce Zoom Fatigue
9 Tips to Reduce Zoom Fatigue

Do you remember when we complained about meetings and the time they took? I’m afraid it has gotten worse as we’ve switched group meetings to Zoom. Since the pandemic began, the length of meetings has shortened—that’s a positive change. However, the number and style of meetings have changed in negative ways. If you use Zoom for meetings, you probably feel the negative impact of constantly being “on” and “in” a meeting. Zoom fatigue is very real, and we are less productive because of it.

A recent Harvard study measured the difference in work hours and meetings in the last year. On average, video meetings have increased by 13%, and 14% more people attend each one. They might be of shorter duration, but they take their toll on our ability to focus and remain effective in our work. The visual and auditory aspects of following multiple people in a Zoom call become a tiring onslaught on the senses.

Employees endure watching more faces (for body language hints), listening to more voices (that often need to repeat their views to be heard clearly), and following more side conversations in chat (that require focus and careful response). All of it taxes our brains and makes us fatigued. 

And then, if you try to do something else like check mail or text someone during a meeting, you compound your multitasking inefficiency issues that Zoom was creating on its own. We might occasionally undermine our own best interests, but there are things that you can do to help reduce the strain of video meetings. 

1. First and foremost, schedule fewer video meetings. Unless shared documents are a part of the agenda, you can be more effective in other ways. When only two or three people are involved, a phone or email is adequate and doesn’t demand visual focus.

2. Recognize different ways of working. An employee might not show their best in a group video meeting, but they will be exceptionally complete via email or another communication method. Choosing the most efficient way to communicate with a group might mean a group email or shared documents rather than pre-scheduled video conferences.

3. Understand the various working environments. While I prefer working from home, that is not the case for parents with small children or home offices where another person also needs to work from home. The competition for attention is stressful and tiring for those who are juggling many things in their home.

4. Schedule shorter meetings. Get to the point in very short meetings. Your employees will appreciate a succinct and efficient conference that allows them a bit of time before the next scheduled task.

5. Ask for plain backgrounds. To simplify the brain’s need to understand everything it sees, encourage people to use a single-colored background. This eliminates the natural desire to read book titles on shelves or watch someone’s cat preen itself.

6. Stop the need for video. Another way to reduce the visual stimuli is to stop video on anyone who is not presenting. Both options ease the fatigue of viewing unnecessary faces or items (or pets).

7. Use mute. As a meeting organizer, mute everyone unless their contribution is asked for or needed. This reduces auditory fatigue by eliminating the noisy clatter of ringing phones and barking dogs.

8. Don’t over-invite. If your organization has included more people in meetings lately, reverse that trend by using the optional invitee line on your meeting invitations. Those employees will appreciate having a choice to  back out when they feel overwhelmed.

9. Keep social time optional. Some people thrive on social interaction, even on Zoom. For others, video meetings’ multiple conversations are draining. While it’s important to offer non-work time for employees to bond socially, some will not want to participate because they are more fatigued by daily interaction.

We will continue to use video meetings in the future, even if we return to offices. However, we must understand how tiring they can be. With a few changes and judicious use of the technology, we can reduce fatigue and keep employees ready to provide productive efforts for our businesses.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. For many years, Atlas Business Solutions has been named one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies.

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