Zoom Fatigue is Real and the Effects Can Carry Over to Other Parts of Your Life

May 12, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

People on a Video CallMany of us who have been working from home for the last 14 months have discovered what it is to be tired of working online all day. It is remarkable how a sedentary act (sitting in front of a screen) can leave you with such fatigue. Compounded by the screen is the video conferencing time. Zoom, Teams, Skype – they are being used by most of us every day. For some people their whole days are video calls.

Whichever brand you are using you know how draining they can be. Well, Stanford University Professor Jeremy Bailenson recently released a study identifying 4 causes of Zoom Fatigue and offers quick solutions for it. He analyzed the psychological consequences of spending hours a day on video conferencing platforms. With the skyrocketing of virtual meetings, it seemed a good time for it.

The conclusions of his study focus on four primary reasons that video chat tires us so much. You can participate in his new study to create a scale for Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue study by clicking here.


Four Reasons Why Zooming is Exhausting:


Too much and too close-up eye contact. The amount and intensity of the eye contact on video chats along with the ‘closeness’ (size) of the faces aren’t natural. Normally when you gather for a meeting people are looking in all directions, at the speaker, taking notes, looking around the room etc. On Zoom we are all looking at each other and the amount of eye contact is dramatically increased. We are not designed for this from an evolutionary perspective, and it causes a great deal of stress. The distorted size of faces can also make it appear that people are ‘too close' for comfort. We are accustomed to people only getting so close in intense emotional contacts. Mating or fighting are examples of when people are so close to one another. 


Solution: Depending on your platform you should be able to change your viewing option from full screen, or you can minimize the size of the window you are using to shrink the image.


Looking at your own image is tiring and stressful. Most of the platforms include a tile image of you looking back at yourself. This is really not normal and again, stressful. We can easily become stressed with the minute details of our own appearances.


Solution: Use the ‘hide yourself’ option and then you won't’ be staring at yourself.


Video chats keep you stationary for too long. In real life, we tend to get up and walk around and take breaks. We can get another cup of coffee from the side of the room, stretch our legs or have a quick break. On video chats, you are forced to stay in a much smaller space that your camera can catch. Staying so still isn’t natural.


Solution: think about your camera setup. Build breaks into meetings. External cameras can give more flexibility for movement and positioning in a room. 


Video chats increase the cognitive load. We are used to face-to-face interaction and non-verbal communication. We are remarkably astute at sensing non-verbal cues. On video chats, these can be much harder to spot. Gestures can be missed, body position hard to read.


Solution: Consider breaks from meetings more often, and doing non-video meetings.


The solution to all of the problems which are stressing us psychologically is the same. We should establish best practices for video chats that included built-in breaks, and limiting the number of video chats conducted. Audio-only calls are fine, in fact, we did business with audio-only for generations.



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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us at 1-519-742-7774.

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