What is Zoom fatigue?

Zoom fatigue

Zoom fatigue is physical and/or emotional exhaustion brought on by the excessive use of video conferencing tools. The term refers to the popular video conferencing tool, Zoom, but is also used to describe fatigue stemming from the use of other video conferencing tools.

What causes Zoom fatigue?

On the physical side, sitting at a screen can affect your eyes and posture bringing about headaches, migraines, and blurred vision. Spending time away from a screen and moving around regularly are recommended ways of combatting these symptoms.

On the emotional side, a recent study from the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) found that there are four key causes of Zoom fatigue:

  1. Being too close for comfort

The relative size of a participant's face on screen can appear closer than participants would be to each other in reality. Seeing someone this up close and personal is usually reserved for experiences when people are being intimate or in conflict with one another. Because of the perceived proximity, peoples’ brains can interpret even mundane video calls as intense exchanges.

  1. Seeing yourself on screen

Being able to see yourself during a conversation is unnatural. When a person sees their reflection contributing to a discussion they tend to be more critical of their input. This self-criticism for excessive periods of time can be taxing. The study also highlights studies showing that people have negative emotional reactions to seeing a reflection of themselves.

  1. Reduced mobility

With in-person and audio phone conversations people tend to feel free to get up and walk around. With videoconference calls, mobility is limited to the visual range of a webcam. There’s also a lot of evidence that suggests people perform better cognitively when they’re on the move.

  1. High cognitive load

With a reduction in the efficacy of non-verbal cues in video calls, people have to work harder to send and interpret signals. Coupled with having to keep yourself framed well, responding to others' comments with overly-obvious signals like nodding and thumbs up adds excessive cognitive load to group conversations that can contribute to feeling tired.

Combatting Zoom fatigue by learning the skills of remote work

While there are risks to working remotely and spending too much time on video calls, skilled remote workers are aware of the practices that can combat these adverse effects and take advantage of the many benefits of remote work. Find out more about becoming a skilled remote worker and helping improve your chances of landing your next remote job with the Oyster Academy.

Disclaimer: This article and all information in it is provided for general informational purposes only. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or tax advice. You should consult with a qualified legal or tax professional for advice regarding any legal or tax matter and prior to acting (or refraining from acting) on the basis of any information provided on this website.

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