So we are mid-pandemic, or hopefully coming out of the other side of it now, but many people have successfully kept the wheels turning by working at home and very quickly adopting videocalls as a way to keep in touch with their teams and clients.
Videocalls are awesome. They’ve saved us, really, in this time of social distancing. But they are also exhausting us – the term Zoom Fatigue has surfaced but it’s by no means limited to Zoom, read that as applying to any video calling such as Skype, Teams etc.
Why am I concerned?
Well, mainly because I think keeping ourselves mentally well is important. If you’re fatigued that is not a good day.
But also, as I work with sales folk and sales leaders, it’s vital they are energised, enthusiastic, passionate and impactful in their videocalls or, frankly, they’re not doing as well as they could be.
So what is it that’s exhausting us?
I am pretty sure that when you were office based you could have 5-6 meetings per day, several great calls with clients, internal catch ups and still feel like that was a normal day. But with us working at home for the time being, we are knackered with videocall after videocall and whatever we can fit in between.
There are some obvious reasons for this, we have the extra stress of working at home with kids/partners to juggle. We probably have extra pressure as sales might be down and you’re worried about the company making it through the next quarter. We may be having to cover work of staff that have been let go, furloughed or sick. So these are big contributors, but why does the so-called ‘Zoom Fatigue’ kick in?
When we are face to face we use so many of our senses to gather meaning from those we are with. In a videocall you are deprived of pretty much everything from the shoulders down so your brain is working harder to process the information. Body language, especially hand gestures are normally relied upon, slight movements towards or away from someone else in the room, small inhalations when someone wants to interject are not picked up by the microphone, all these mean we have to focus much harder on the face and words, which can be hard work especially if you’re not a native speaker of the meeting’s common language, you may rely more on non-verbal cues to gather meaning and nuances.
If you’re in gallery view your brain is trying to work out the facial cues of everyone at the same time too! And we aren’t just scanning faces, we are (whether you admit it or not) scanning the rooms those people are in. Your brain is wired to do that, you’ll be subconsciously checking out each room, not just one room that you would normally be in with this person or group.
We are also staring at a tiny image of ourselves, and this is disconcerting and adds stress when we realise we are fidgeting too much or not smiling enough, we are distracted by our own image as well as everyone else’s. We try to show our reactions more over videocall, we
The poor brain is processing so many factors at once that the split of your attention between so many stimuli is, of course, going to tire you out.
So! No Fluff has a few tips to help if you find yourself with ‘Zoom Fatigue’.
- Don’t have more than 4 videocalls per day.
- Take a break in between each one to decompress, make a cuppa, grab some fresh air, stretch – just give your brain a break
- Don’t have videocalls that last longer than 30 minutes! Everyone is busy, let’s respect each others time and keep the meetings focused
- Ask yourself if every zoom call HAS to be a zoom call – can it be a good old ‘phone call instead maybe? Reserve your energy and impact for those that need it most
- Avoid multitasking, your brain is having a hard enough time without adding sneaky emails, texts or whatever is distracting you to its workload.
- If you have to have longer meetings, build in breaks, set the agenda and let everyone know there’ll be a quick break every 30 minutes or so
- Hide yourself from view. We look at our own image, so get rid of this stimulus and distraction, you can always check you don’t have lunch in your teeth beforehand. Focus on who you are talking with.
- Wear headphones if you have a noisy background
- Have a clear purpose for each videocall – and communicate it!
- Make virtual social events opt-out if you’ve had a full day and are conked out from videocalls