How to avoid Zoom fatigue during Covid-19

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How to avoid Zoom fatigue during Covid-19

Covid-19 has presented us with such immense challenges so quickly, it is important to find ways to assert control before we become fatigued

Frank Conway. Founder – Moneywhizz

Since the onset of Covid-19, another new word has entered our vocabulary; ZOOM!

It seems everybody is touched by it! Kids, workers, medical professionals.

Zoom meetings!

Zoom classes, and yes

Zoom happy hour!

It seems to be the way we are all destine to interact for a near-term, or until the Covid-19 crisis abates and we can go back to relative normality.

What we may not yet fully understand is why some people are finding Zoom so exhausting, and how they can avoid Zoom exhaustion.

A little about Zoom

For those of you new to this, Zoom allows you to interact, on your computer with co-workers or friends in a ‘group’ setting when in-person meetings aren’t possible. All you need to get Zoom is the software on your computer which is easily downloadable. It comes with a range of subscription options, including a free version and subscription. The free option has some limitations, which is similar to how many such programmes operate.

Are there risks?

Security risks have been written about and it is easy to go online to read about them. For example, there are some questions about security. Because Zoom is a video based conferencing service, it is possible to record meetings and view them later. Some experts recommend that companies limit the sharing of sensitive information over a Zoom meeting as this can be hacked and used by criminals.

What are the main features of Zoom?

One-on-one meetings: Host unlimited one-on-one meetings with the free plan.

Group video conferences: Host up to 500 participants (if you purchase the “large meeting” add-on). The free plan, however, allows you to host video conferences of up to 40 minutes and up to 100 participants.

Screen sharing: Meet one-on-one or with large groups and share your screen with them so they can see what you see.

What is Zoom-fatigue?

What appears to be emerging as a bit of a global trend is Zoom exhaustion. Mentally, using video conferencing extensively has the potential to insert us into the type of ‘face-to-face’ settings that we may not even endure or tolerate in close family settings.  Online intraction can be stark; we end up staring at faces for protracted periods of time! It can cause non-verbal overload that our brains are not prepared for.

In typical social context, we have established acceptable level of closeness which we can exhibit to others: It is OK to be physically very close to a family member but not a co-worker. It’s the type of scene captured in the US comedy, Seinfeld when one of the characters does NOT understand the basics of social etiquette. In a lift, on a bus or train, this is why people typically look away; they stare at their feet or pretend to read a sign. It’s a way of creating balance in an ‘unbalanced’ environment.

In a normal workplace meeting, people shuffle their notepads, move their chairs and create their own micro-environment to create that level of social balance. This way, the endless gaze—looking directly into the eyes of one another—lasts only a few seconds.

With Zoom, our computer screens end up mimicking a scene from the ‘Brady Bunch’; a 1980’s TV series about a very big American family, except with Zoom, it lasts and ETERNITY!!!

A few ways to avoid the Zoom fatigue!

For every minute we are in Zoom, we have staring faces inches from our own. But if we move too far back from the screen, co-workers might get the wrong idea and feel we are trying to disengage.

1. Use the phone – yes, it is OK to call into a Zoom meeting by phone. At a minimum, you can say that you don’t want to contribute to internet overload.  

2. Video queueing – another option is to use the video function for only the time one is actually talking. It’s what people would have done when Skype was all the rage a decade or so ago and they would have hit the mute button. This way, we don’t need to overload our emotional senses by being stared at by a screen of faces for an hour or more.

3. Use another camera – If you have the option, it may be possible to set up an external webcam. This means that you look normal to others on the Zoom meeting but you can push your computer screen away from you…minimising the potential for emotional overload.

Even when it comes to Zoom, it is OK to create some social distance. Your emotions will thank you for it. In the meantime, stay safe and keep your distance (no pun intended)!

Frank Conway is the Founder of

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