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How to combat Zoom fatigue
If you’re finding that you’re more exhausted at the end of your workday than you used to be, you’re not alone. Over the past few weeks, mentions of “Zoom fatigue” have popped up more and more on social media, and Google searches for the same phrase have steadily increased since early March.
Why do we find video calls so draining? There are a few reasons. Think of it this way: when you’re sitting in a conference room, you can rely on whispered side exchanges to catch you up if you get distracted or answer quick, clarifying questions. During a video call, however, it’s impossible to do this unless you use the private chat feature or awkwardly try to find a moment to unmute and ask a colleague to repeat themselves.
Like hand sanitiser and face masks
Like hand sanitiser and face masks, Zoom has become an indelible symbol of the Covid-19 era. “For many of us, Zoom fatigue is really work fatigue, pandemic fatigue, lockdown fatigue and social isolation fatigue,” says Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of Southern California who specialises in communications and media.
Once we exit this crisis period, however, it makes sense that our relationship with Zoom will evolve, experts say. After all, though the process is usually slower than Zoom take-up in the pandemic, we’re used to adopting new technologies and finding the best ways to use them.
“Our norms will change. When we first had elevators, everyone would stare at each other like, ‘oh God’. And now in an elevator, we face forward,” says Hancock. And when ride-sharing services like Uber first appeared: “’Do I get in the front? Do I talk?’ And now it’s, yeah, you sit in the back; you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.” We figured out the more awkward and messier bits as we went and eventually adapted to the technologies.
In the case of Zoom, the hypothesis is we’ll use it more sparingly, and in situations that truly call for it. A great place to start is to really think on why we hold video conferencing in high regard in the first place.
Zoom fatigue? Holograms
Stanford professor Jeremy Bailenson prescribed four solutions for the scourge of office workers the world over: Zoom fatigue.
Spending several exhausting hours staring into a webcam is far from the greatest challenge that the past 12 months have presented. But among home workers at least, it may be one of the pandemic’s most widespread side effects.
He recommends we shrink the Zoom app window and put distance between ourselves and the screen, to preserve our sense of personal space. We should hide the “self-view” video window, remember to move around, and turn off the camera to go “audio only” more often.
However, Bailenson’s paper did not mention his fifth solution to Zoom fatigue, which, might be his favourite: holograms. These holograms are not Star Wars-style projections but realistic avatars that we can see through virtual reality headsets or smart glasses so that they appear to be in our room.
Eye contact during video calls
More than one year after the first Covid-19 cases, organizations around the globe continue to operate remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. To enable virtual collaboration, teams are using a wide range of tools such as video conferencing and messenger services. With round-the-clock Zoom meetings replacing traditional face-to-face affairs, screentime burnout has led to all-new terms; hence the coining of so-called Zoom fatigue.
Earlier this month, Blind, an anonymous network for professionals, featured a pop-up poll to better understand video chat burnout one year into remote work at-scale.
The poll also included questions related to "excessive" eye contact during video calls and inquired about where one's gaze focused on-screen. We've detailed these key findings below.
Five things to try and combat Zoom fatigue
Videoconferencing platforms including the popular Zoom have taken over the corporate world. While they’ve allowed co-workers to safely communicate during a pandemic, there can be some downsides. Zoom has become a way of life for millions of working Americans. But after months of sitting in front of a screen, many employees are getting tired and bored. It’s a phenomenon dubbed “Zoom fatigue.”
“It’s really bad for our mental health to constantly be plugged in,” said A.J. Marsden, PhD, a Psychologist at Beacon College. Experts say you can do these five things to try and combat Zoom fatigue
The power of a handshake
Many experts are convinced business travelers won't fly as much as they did before the pandemic. But others say these people might be underestimating the power of a handshake.
Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates set off a debate in the aviation industry when he predicted late last year that more than 50% of business travel would permanently disappear after the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies cozy up to working from home.
While many aviation experts have dismissed Gates' forecast as way too dire, they tend to agree that some portion of business traffic might have gone away for good thanks to conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet and the feasibility of working from home.
But Nick van der Kolk of Barcelona-based business travel platform TravelPerk feels people may be exaggerating the long-term impact of Zoom and other tools on future business travel.
"The pandemic has shown how much we can do via video, but it's also revealed to us all how important in-person interactions still are," he told DW. COVID-19 "caused us to temporarily change our behavior but it hasn't changed our fundamental need for social interactions, in business and our personal lives."
Teaching on Zoom
Many accounts of teaching on Zoom or other online platforms recount its horrors. And much is horrible: teachers and students without stable internet connections or adequate technology; too much intimacy, with overcrowded homes that teachers or students might find embarrassing for others to see; and not enough intimacy, with the human connection attenuated online.
As a college professor, I, too, miss some of the elements of teaching in a classroom, including the intellectual energy that can flow around a seminar table, the performative aspect of lecturing to a large audience and the little chats that take place by happenstance during breaks or after class with students.
What I don’t miss is my 10-mile drive to campus and back. I don’t miss pondering my wardrobe choices in the morning. The relative informality of the Zoom era means that I would feel overdressed if I wore a blazer to teach. And if I don’t wear a blazer, I don’t have to wear slacks. Or put on shoes. Why would I wear shoes inside my house, anyway?
The Covid-19 economy before Zoom and Amazon
Economists concerned about slowing productivity have spent the past decade hotly debating the value of free digital services such as Google’s web search and Amazon’s online store. But those online services have proven their worth during the pandemic. And COVID-19 may ultimately push our society to learn new ways of using digital technologies that accelerate productivity growth.
But let’s do a scary little thought experiment. Try to imagine what 2020 would have been like without Google, Amazon, Zoom, Slack or any of the other online services. It’s pretty terrifying.
People would also have to go into their offices. With no Zoom, Slack or other remote management tools, the companies that currently have their employees working from home would have had to either halt operations — hurting the economy even more grievously — or find some way to bring them in.
Spice things up
It’s been a year since happy hour Zooms replaced grabbing a bar stool with friends; since FaceTime subbed in for face time. And all these months in, staring at one another in boxes on a screen has a tendency to make gatherings feel a bit, well, boxed-in.
To spice things up, consider calling in a professional entertainer. Comedians, bands and variety shows — just for starters — can beam straight into your living room and help cure the not-another-Zoom blues. Here’s a sampling of options that can liven up your next virtual event.
This text was not written by a native English speaker, but by a language lover. However, all our language services are always provided by native speakers.
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AP | Portugal Tech Language Solutions' content curation not only aims to disseminate...