What is Zoom Fatigue? Video Calls, Working From Home and Burnout

Ashlene McFadden

It’s a strange one to admit but I actually feel more tired working from home than I ever did working in the office. Which doesn’t make sense, right? I have no commute, I’m “home” by 5.32pm at the latest, I have more time for my family … And yet, sometimes, by Friday, it feels like I’m running on fumes.

Now, there’s no doubt I’m working harder than I would be under normal circumstances. Whilst there is every need for a business to have a strong accountancy team right now, many candidates are wary of moving in this climate and some clients aren’t too keen on remote onboarding. So, I could put my tiredness down to the extra effort needed to stay tapped into the market.

But, it’s more than that. And it’s more than just me. Many people that I have spoken to – no matter what industry they work in – have said the same thing. They’re exhausted.

So, having done a little bit of research, I came to the conclusion that we’re all suffering from the same thing: Zoom fatigue.

More than ever before – unless perhaps you previously worked from home or for a remote branch of your company – we’re all relying on video calls to get us through the day. Rather than having face to face meetings with clients and candidates (or simply popping by a colleague’s desk), we’re opting to call them virtually through platforms such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams.

What causes Zoom fatigue?

  1. Video calls require more focus to process non-verbal cues. We feel like we really have to pay attention, especially if there is more than one other person on screen. It is extremely difficult to try and process six different facial expressions at once.
  2. Conversely, video calls enable us to stop focusing and drift out of conversations because there are so many other distractions on our laptops. Admit it, you’ve checked your emails, sent a note, or scrolled through LinkedIn whilst on a video call.
  3. We feel the need to present positively. Because we’re not seeing our colleagues or clients as often, we don’t feel like we can have a grumble the way we normally would. Putting on a “happy face” for these calls is also emotionally draining.  

What can we do to avoid it?

  1. Build in breaks. All this screen time is bad for us mentally, emotionally and physically. Our eyes become dry because we don’t blink as much whilst we’re looking at a screen. Constant pop ups and notifications can trigger anxiety. Just as you would in the office, get up and make yourself a cuppa or take a dedicated lunch break.
  2. Next time you’re on a video call, switch off other tabs or mute notifications for other apps so you’re less likely to feel the pressure to multi-task. This will allow you to focus solely on the conversation at hand.
  3. No phone zone. Make a promise to yourself that, say, after 8.30pm and for a large portion of the weekend, you’re not going to be attached to a screen. Switch your phone off – or mute your notifications – and engage in an entirely different activity.

Can we say no to video calls?

Well, the joke about the “meeting that should have been an email” still rings true. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, why not suggest a different platform such as email, instant messenger or an old-fashioned phone call to discuss things instead?

Most importantly, if you are feeling burnt out, stressed or anxious, you should talk to a partner, friend, colleague or line manager about how you are feeling and what you think might be causing it. This is a stressful time for everyone, so you’re not alone.

If you would like to speak to me about hiring Accountancy & Finance talent for your business or you are in need of career advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Click here to get in touch.

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