Spending extra time online and engaging in regular virtual meetings, particularly video meetings, is resulting in virtual fatigue for many workers. Learn how to manage virtual fatigue and some ways to prevent it from MyWorkplaceHealth consultant Charmaine Hammond. 

Since we’ve been spending more time at home, are having remote work meetings and virtual gatherings with our friends, you may be feeling the impacts of virtual fatigue. Most of us aren’t used to spending this much time sitting down in front of screens.

If you’ve transitioned to working from home you may have had to adjust to new platforms that you’re not accustomed to. This can, for some, not only be a steep learning curve but increases stress levels. Meetings that used to be in person are now in busy Zoom chat rooms that can be difficult to manage and focus on. 

It’s also likely that many haven’t paid as much attention to the transition time between meetings due to their virtual nature. As a result, you aren’t getting up and walking around or allow your brain to switch gears between meetings which can lead to an increase in fatigue. We’re also likely sitting more due to having fewer transitions during our days as well as not having to commute. And increased screen time overall can increase the likelihood of getting headaches. 

Some people are even calling this type of virtual fatigue they’re experiencing as Zoom Fatigue.

What is Zoom Fatigue 

Zoom fatigue is the specific experience of feeling fatigued after a video call. But why does this happen more so than the typical in-office meetings we are used to?

  1. We lose focus. When we’re at home and in a video call it’s easier to lose focus or get distracted. We may think we can pay attention to the meeting while simultaneously answering an email or sending a text but we end up not paying attention. Or we’re distracted by other things in our working space especially if we don’t have a private space to have our meetings.
  2. When we lose focus we can’t ‘catch up’. During an in-person meeting, we’re able to engage in discrete crosstalk to catch up on something we missed or ask a clarifying question. This is difficult, or almost impossible, during video meetings especially in meetings with multiple people.
  3. The video call process. Due to the nature of video calls, the only way we’re able to show we’re paying attention is to look at the camera. This generally results in us staring for long periods of time at the speaker which we don’t normally do and can feel uncomfortable. But if we glance away to look out the window we worry it will seem like we aren’t paying attention. On top of that, we’re also forced to look at the tiny view of themselves which can not only be distracting but gives us the opportunity to scrutinize ourselves. 

Charmaine’s 7 Resilience Tips for Virtual Fatigue

Charmaine Hammond, a conflict resolution specialist with MyWorkplaceHealth, who has also taught resilience and compassion fatigue for many years has put together some tips for managing virtual fatigue based on her personal experience.  

A few things that I’ve found helpful during these times are:

  1. Use voice recognition software instead of typing (so it allows me to get up and move around instead of sitting too long).
  2. Allow transition times between online calls/meetings the same way you would in the workplace. Instead of allowing for time to “travel” to your next meeting, you are allowing time to break up screen time, refresh, and stretch. 
  3. Stretch. I stretch when I get up from the computer (and yes, I do write myself notes, use my timer, and schedule this into my routine so I remember).
  4. Use the best platform. Take the time to consider what is the best platform for your communication needs. Do you need to be on a video call? Would a quick phone call work instead?
  5. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break and don’t expect perfection. In fact, many productivity and mental health experts are reporting that we are working at 25% less of our usual capacity, so be kind and forgiving to yourself. 
  6. Find balance. Inject some ‘real world’ balancing moments into your day. Get fresh air, sunlight, and drink lots of water. If you’re using your voice more because of increased meetings and online time, your voice can become strained. 
  7. Don’t forget your passions. Schedule time (even 10 minutes a day) to work on those big dreams! This will help put a bounce in your step and help you see that, despite all that is happening, your dream did not take a back seat. 

Final Thoughts

Many of us may still need to be online for a while longer as many workplaces are not yet opening their offices to workers and many larger gatherings continue to be hosted online. That being said it’s important to manage our mental wellness as individuals and organizations. So, share these tips with your friends, family and co-workers and make sure to take the time to take care of yourself.