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4 Simple Ways to Help Remote Employees Tackle ‘Zoom Fatigue’

Wednesday November 18th, 2020

Estimated time to read: 1 minute, 45 seconds


Ever since offices shut their doors this spring, remote employees have had their calendars filled up with hourslong video chats and virtual meetings. Not surprisingly, it’s exhausting to many workers — especially those shouldering the burden of an unexpected shift to remote work as well as increasingly complex and hybridized work-school-home environments. 

For these remote employees, “Zoom fatigue” is a very real phenomenon. We’re offering HR some helpful tips to share with remote employees as well as organizational leaders to make remote work more sustainable.

1. Identify why constant videoconferencing can be so draining.

It’s not easy to address a problem like Zoom fatigue if you don’t know what’s causing it. Taking the time to educate your team and your remote employees about the specific factors that might cause more exhaustion can lead to helpful solutions. 

One of the main issues is that participants feel like they have to be “on” at all times. They’re constantly aware others are watching them. And even completely normal activities like glancing around the room or checking notes can look like distraction via a videoconferencing platform. 

Additionally, conversations can be more stressful, given audio or video glitches and the lack of meaningful nonverbal cues. All of these factors make anxiety levels higher while demanding more energy and attention. 

2. Encourage teams to establish and follow an agenda.

Holding a meeting without an agenda can always lead to longer and more off-track conversations. When remote employees are asked to give their full attention to a video meeting, it’s only right to provide an agenda, and to follow it as efficiently as possible. 

Inviting participants to sign off once their input is no longer needed, and continuing the meeting with a smaller group, can add some relief as well. 

3. Be strategic about when and why video calls are scheduled.

Although many organizations have gotten into the habit of scheduling video-on calls, it’s time for business leaders to be more thoughtful about how and when video could enhance or detract from a particular meeting experience.

For instance, participants don’t need to be on camera when the main priority is to review a document via screen sharing tools. Conference calls with just audio can oftentimes be just as impactful but significantly less taxing for remote employees. But virtual face-to-face meetings can be very helpful when remotely interviewing job applicants or meeting new clients.

Distribute a clear policy that helps workers understand when videoconferencing is and isn’t expected — and why.

4. Empower remote employees to take breaks.

Finally, spending too much time on videoconferencing calls without taking a break can compound the effects of Zoom fatigue. As with any work activity, taking breaks is an important way to decompress and reduce the feelings of exhaustion. 

Let remote employees know it’s important to give their eyes a break, get up, move around and even switch off the camera when they just need a moment’s rest from the screen. Encourage teams to schedule 45-minute meetings instead of hourlong sessions but reserve the last 15 minutes for taking care of follow-up activities without the camera on.

Discover other ways COVID-19 has impacted the workforce by reviewing our eBook, “4 Ways the pandemic is changing the employee experience.”