As we come back from the Labor Day weekend, it’s a great time to think about hanging onto that recharged, refreshed feeling. We’ve all spent so much time on video platforms, which, by now, you’ve probably realized are far more exhausting than your usual mix of calls and in-person meetings.
Whatever your platform of choice, the term Zoom Fatigue has officially entered our lexicon. Google it and you’ll see 77,600,000 entries.
And there is scientific data that shows that video-conferencing requires far greater focus as you stare at a screen, often for hours at a time. Most of us stayed locked onto the speaker’s face (often your boss) for fear of being caught multi-tasking or gazing longingly out the window. Video calls also heighten self-criticism as you view every wrinkle and frown on your own face.
Here are some ways you can zap Zoom Fatigue when you get back to the physical or virtual office. I’m using Zoom as an example, but it’s the same principle whether you’re using Teams, Webex, or BlueJeans (if you don’t know this relatively new entry to the video-conferencing space, you might want to check it out).
- Don’t make Zoom your default. Remember phone calls? Emails? Text messages? They may seem a little quaint now, but they used to be our default and it’s time to reclaim them, at least some of the time. My rule of thumb is that for a brief or routine interaction, pick up the phone (no, not Facetime). Give yourself a breather from having to do your hair and put on your Zoom shirt. Yup, that’s also a thing.
- Use the mute/hide camera functions. If you’re on a work call, particularly a long one, ask if it’s okay for you to turn off your audio and video unless you’re speaking. Make it clear that it’s not so you can social media surf, but so that you can take a break from the intensity of screen staring. Most bosses will understand, since they’re dealing with the same issue themselves.
- Change locations. It may not seem very significant to move from your designated home office to the kitchen, den, or patio, but changing locations gives your brain a break from staring at the same image. Your teammates might find it refreshing too, since we’re living not just with our own backgrounds but subjecting others to them, too. Conversely, you may want to suggest that everyone keep their backgrounds easy-on-the-eyes neutral.
- Take breaks often. Don’t forget the importance of stopping your work and taking short breaks throughout the day. Take an actual lunch break, preferably outside but definitely not in front of a screen. Try stretch breaks every hour and don’t forget those long walks listening to music or your favorite podcast.
- Cut out some of your social events. I know, this one sounds counter-intuitive but hear me out. We’ve all done the Zoom happy hours and birthdays, but, by now, most of us can socialize outside at a safe distance. So put your virtual events on ice and meet a friend at the park, lakeside, or even in your own driveway. Even if we can’t hug, we can see each other in person. And that means a lot these days.