A new study published by Stanford University confirmed what we’ve all been feeling: Zoom Fatigue is very real.
The study states, “The first cause for Zoom Fatigue is the state of stressed hyper-arousal generated by excessive stretches of close-up eye contact. Unlike an in-person meeting, where participants will shift from looking at a speaker to other activities, on Zoom everyone is always staring at everyone.”
We already know that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to increased feelings of stress, depression, and diminished well-being. While Zoom lets our mind dial in, our body is left behind, stuck sitting in the chair. A day spent on Zoom is draining, not just emotionally, but physically too. As a result, employees are more depleted than ever. Millennials have higher rates of depression than any other generation. Longer work hours and stagnant wages for millennials mean a higher rate of burnout, with many quitting their jobs for mental health reasons. According to [the Standford study], 40 percent of workers say they’ve dealt with burnout during the pandemic.
At Sprout Wellness, we’re a digital platform that makes wellbeing more accessible to the workforce. We help companies around the world implement wellness programs into their corporate culture. As the workforce continues to work remotely, employers need to think about their employees beyond business hours. How a workforce spends its time “off the clock” directly affects how productive and engaged employees are during work.
Here’s why Zoom fatigue is setting in:
- Video conferencing requires us to be “on.” For work, we try to maintain a level of professionalism from the private corners of our homes. We ask, “How do I look? What’s my background? Did I remember to mute myself?” Combine that with seeing yourself on camera, and that leaves us in a highly draining self-conscious state.
- At the beginning of the pandemic, Zoom meetings allowed us to feel as though we were still connected to our colleagues, and virtual parties were novel and fun. However, despite being a vital technology, it often makes us feel that we should always be available. The result is that we’re losing precious downtime to rejuvenate. Being online all day and into the evening means we have little time left over for other activities that bring us joy.
Tips to manage Zoom Fatigue
The pandemic has also provoked a pressing incentive to carefully monitor wellbeing. In order for employees to work effectively and manage stress, employers need to communicate effectively. This includes setting boundaries as we adjust to work-life integration.
Consider these tips to help with Zoom fatigue:
- Move back from your camera. Talking to portraits is hard on the eyes — let your colleagues see you.
- Take a break from staring at the screen. Look away, look down, look off into the distance. Relax.
- Spend a few minutes making small talk — connect as you used to at the office. Consider it the “water cooler moment” that provided a spark of idea and creativity with colleagues.
- Consider whether hosting a Zoom meeting is necessary? Some business leaders are switching to pre-recorded videos that employees can watch individually. If a meeting is still necessary, consider how many people actually need to be invited for the time to be spent effectively?
- Consider turning off the camera function to avoid the ‘talking head’ distraction. Is the meeting just a one-on-one? If so, pick up the phone!
- Try joining Zoom calls with your phone, rather than your computer, and go for a “walk and talk.” Enjoy the benefits of moving.
- Create company-wide wellness goals. Use your company’s communication channels to share updates and/or for employees to post about their own progress.
Brea Giffin is the Director of Partnerships at Sprout Wellness.
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