Is Zoom fatigue real or perceived? It’s very real.

Sharon Brown

Sharon Brown (Santa Barbara Human Resources Association photo)

We are using virtual video meetings daily for multiple reasons. We are using virtual meetings for work, school and many types of social activities.

With so many working remotely, virtual meetings are now becoming a common way of conducting business. People are feeling more exhausted at the end of their workday from attending multiple video meetings.

There are many things to consider when attending these meeting to reduce the fatigue that can set in.

» Be mindful of what you’re doing and where you’re at before clicking “start” — prepare yourself for the meeting you are about to attend. When you are attending these meetings, you are often forced to focus for long periods of time. If you were in a conference room ,you could easily ask clarifying questions. This can be done in via the Chat feature if it is being utilized, but it can often be overlooked.

We’re not used to this. We get distracted easily, either from wanting to multitask or from extraneous interference from outside or family members also vying for our attentions, complicating our ability to focus.

» Another reason we become so fatigued is our ability to process information over video. On a video call, the only way to show we are paying attention is to look at the camera. When we’re in our office settings, we are in the same space, but can look away instead of having a constant gaze onto the screen, and looking away often gives the impression we may not be paying attention.

» Trying to multitask during a video meeting will reduce your ability to retain information and contribute to your fatigue. Emails, text messages and other projects should wait until your video meeting has concluded.

» Problems can arise with group video chats that can become less collaborative and create a sense of being drained and feelings of accomplishing little to nothing. Sometimes participants become overwhelmed by being hyper focused on searching for nonverbal clues that are often nonexistent in video meetings.

» Take a break from video meetings. Try to schedule breaks in between video meetings. Also, if possible reduce the amount of time you are on the meeting and, if allowed, turn off the camera so you can listen and participate without video. Without video it will also reduce the time you spend looking at yourself, which often becomes a distraction.

» Determine if you can achieve the same result by phone or email. If there are one or two people, a conference call may achieve the same or greater result and reduce video fatigue.

» Ways to reduce the fatigue include having an agenda, making the meetings shorter, hiding “self-view” or turning off the camera, and scheduling screen-free time.

— Sharon Brown is the corporate director of human resources for Axxcss Wireless Solutions Inc. in Goleta. With years of experience as a human resources leader in multiple industries, she is a longtime member of the Santa Barbara Human Resources Association, for which she is the current president, and the Society for Human Resource Management. The opinions expressed are her own.