Back at the start of 2020 I had never heard of Zoom. If I had to join a meeting remotely, I would ask the host to dial me in. At a push I’d use Skype, but I would never, ever, turn on my video!
But then a year ago, if I joined a meeting remotely, I’d often miss half the conversation, all the whiteboard action, and spend most of the time asking people to repeat what they said.
One result of the pandemic is the rise of the virtual meeting. Zoom (along with other reputable video conferencing services) has shown us that it is possible to work from home and still connect. Client calls, pitches, 121s and all-agency townhalls – we’ve done them all by video call. We’ve learned how to blur our backgrounds, mute ourselves when the dog barks, and share our screens.
But it’s tiring, isn’t it? Constantly staring at ourselves and our colleagues and our clients is hard work. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, and we are all suffering from it. A recent study published in Technology, Mind and Behavior has taken a closer look and identified four problems associated with prolonged video calls:
Of course there are solutions to these issues, the most obvious being to turn off your camera, some of the time at least. Not only does that stop you looking at yourself, but it also gives you a break from being non-verbally active. Or don’t always use the full-screen option – minimise and shrink those faces. And in between calls, get up and walk around! The other solution is don’t video conference so much. Some companies are already bringing in ‘Zoom-free’ days, to allow their staff a rest.
At AS&K we encourage our people to avoid booking lunchtime meetings, so everyone can take a proper break, maybe go outside, or just get away from the screen.
We also encourage meetings to be 25 minutes instead of 30, so if you are on back to back calls, you have a chance to turn off for 5 mins, make that cup of coffee, stretch your legs, stop looking at yourself.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that from now on video conferencing is going to play a far larger part of our work life, and even our personal lives. We all need to think how we can protect our mental and physical health, given this incredibly unnatural situation.
So you’ll excuse me if I don’t turn my camera on today, or even – heaven forbid – actually decline that one extra meeting you’re trying to squeeze in.
#zoomfatigue #mentalhealth #workwellness
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