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Addressing Video Call Fatigue During Virtual Meetings

Thu, 12 Oct 2023

Addressing Video Call Fatigue During Virtual Meetings

Are you tired of sitting through endless video calls? Do you find yourself drained and exhausted after a day of virtual meetings?

If so, you're not alone.

Video call fatigue has become a common complaint among remote workers and professionals who rely on virtual meetings for communication.

But fear not, there are strategies you can implement to address this issue and make your virtual meetings more manageable.

Read on if you're ready to say goodbye to video call fatigue and reclaim your energy and focus during virtual meetings.

Understanding Video Call Fatigue

Video call fatigue, also known as Zoom fatigue, is a phenomenon that has emerged in the digital era, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic when virtual interactions became the norm.

This term refers to the exhaustion or burnout that individuals experience due to participating in frequent video calls or virtual meetings. This fatigue can manifest as physical tiredness, but it can also take the form of mental and emotional strain.

It is not merely a result of the technological aspect of video calls but extends to the novel dynamics of virtual social interaction that require a different kind of engagement and attention.

Why Video Calls Can Be Tiring?

There are several reasons why video calls can be more tiring than in-person interactions.

Firstly, constant screen time can strain the eyes and cause headaches.

Secondly, video calls require more focus because non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions, which we typically rely on in face-to-face communication, are harder to read on screen.

Thirdly, video calls often demand a level of performance because we are aware that we are on display, which can increase stress and self-consciousness.

Lastly, the lack of physical mobility during long virtual meetings can also contribute to feelings of restlessness and discomfort, amplifying fatigue.

Signs You're Experiencing Video Call Fatigue

Constant Exhaustion After Video Calls

Video calls, especially long ones, require a lot of mental energy. You need to focus on the conversation, interpret non-verbal cues, and maintain a professional appearance. This can be draining, especially when multiple calls are scheduled back-to-back.

This constant exhaustion can directly impact your work productivity. It's harder to focus, make decisions, and think creatively when fatigued. In turn, this can lead to mistakes, missed deadlines, and overall lower-quality work.

Difficulty in Concentrating During Video Calls

During a video call, your attention is divided between multiple stimuli - the speaker, the shared screen, chat notifications, and more. This can lead to cognitive overload, making it difficult to focus and absorb information.

Difficulty in concentrating can significantly hamper your work performance. You might miss out on important details, misinterpret information, or fail to contribute effectively to the discussion.

The Feeling of Dread Before Video Calls

A feeling of dread or anxiety before video calls might manifest as a racing heart, sweaty palms, or a general sense of unease. The prospect of being constantly visible, performing, and dealing with technical glitches can be anxiety-inducing.

This anxiety can undermine your work productivity. It can distract you from the task at hand, lead to poor performance during the call, and even deter you from participating in future calls.

Reduced Social Interaction

Despite video calls being a method of communication, they can often feel impersonal and isolating. The lack of physical presence and natural interaction can leave you feeling socially drained.

This reduced social interaction can affect your work productivity. It can lead to feelings of isolation, hinder teamwork, and diminish your sense of belonging in the workplace.

It can also negatively impact your well-being, leading to loneliness, reduced motivation, and a lowered mood.

Practical Tips to Combat Video Call Fatigue

Set Clear Agendas and Limit Meeting Duration

Establish a clear agenda for every video call and allow participants to prepare in advance and engage more effectively. Set start and end times for the call to prevent meetings from dragging on unnecessarily and causing further fatigue.

Additionally, try to keep meetings as brief as possible. Long meetings can be draining, and it's harder to maintain focus and productivity over extended periods.

If a more extended meeting is unavoidable, make sure to incorporate regular breaks to refresh and recharge.

Use Audio-Only Calls When Possible

Not every meeting requires a video call. Sometimes, an audio-only call can be just as effective and less draining.

Being on video can make people feel like they need to be 'on' all the time, which can be mentally exhausting. When the video is off, participants may feel less pressure to appear engaged and can relax a bit more.

Moreover, audio-only calls can reduce the technical difficulties often associated with video calls.  Issues like poor video quality or lag can be stressful and distracting, and eliminating these problems can make for a smoother and less fatiguing experience.

However, ensure this option is acceptable to all participants, as some people may prefer video calls for various reasons.

Establishing Regular Breaks During Video Calls

Unlike physical meetings, video calls require more focus and attention, which can be quite draining. Long hours without breaks can lead to mental exhaustion, lack of concentration, and reduced productivity.

Companies can schedule short breaks after every 60-90 minutes during a video call. These breaks should be long enough for employees to stretch, hydrate, rest their eyes, and regain focus.

This not only helps reduce mental fatigue but also boosts their overall performance and productivity. This policy can be communicated to all employees and strictly adhered to during all virtual meetings.

Limiting Non-Essential Video Calls

The current remote working setup has led to an influx of virtual meetings, some of which may not be necessary. Having back-to-back video calls can be mentally exhausting for employees.

Before scheduling a video call, managers and team leaders should assess the necessity of the meeting. If the matter can be handled via an email or a quick phone call, it would be more beneficial to opt for that instead..

The Way Forward: Combining Virtual with In-Person Meetings

The future of meetings may lie in a hybrid approach combining the best elements of in-person and virtual gatherings.

As technology continues to advance and reshape how we communicate and collaborate, the traditional model of in-person meetings is being challenged by the convenience and flexibility of virtual meetings.

However, balancing both methods could provide a more effective and efficient way to conduct meetings.

Pros and Cons of In-Person Meetings

In-person meetings have traditionally been the norm in business settings. They allow for direct, personal interactions, which can lead to stronger relationships and better understanding.

Non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions are easily communicated in person, making communication more effective. Additionally, in-person meetings can sometimes promote a more collaborative and creative atmosphere.

However, in-person meetings can be time-consuming and expensive, mainly when participants are geographically scattered.

It's important to note that in-person meetings do not pose this issue, but they have drawbacks such as travel fatigue. They also require a physical space and can often be disrupted by external factors like traffic or weather conditions.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings, on the other hand, offer convenience and flexibility. They eliminate geographical barriers, allowing people to meet and collaborate from anywhere.

This can significantly save on travel time and costs. Virtual meetings also allow recording and replaying sessions, benefitting those who might have missed the meeting or need to revisit specific discussions.

Nevertheless, virtual meetings have their downsides too. 'Video call fatigue' or 'Zoom fatigue', as mentioned before, is a real issue, with people feeling drained and mentally exhausted from constant virtual interactions.

Technical issues can also hamper the effectiveness of virtual meetings. Furthermore, virtual meetings often lack the personal touch and non-verbal cues that come naturally in in-person interactions.

Merging Virtual and In-Person Meetings: A Hybrid Model

Combining the strengths of virtual and in-person meetings can lead to a hybrid model that optimises the benefits of both.

A hybrid model can help alleviate this issue by offering an alternative to constant screen time. It can provide the option to switch between virtual and in-person interactions based on individual comfort and convenience, thus offering a more balanced and less exhausting meeting experience.

However, to implement this effectively, organisations need to invest in the right tools and technologies and also foster a culture that supports and encourages this flexible approach.

At Upscale, we emphasise the importance of proper talent management and believe that a combination of virtual and in-person meetings is the best way to foster strong relationships among team members.

We strive to provide our clients with the most effective solutions for their talent needs, so let us help you match the right talent with your organisation’s goals.

Reach out to us at upscale.my so we can discuss how our approach to talent management can help you achieve success in your company and your job search.