Videoconferencing is here—and for many businesses, it’s here to stay.

But along with this surge in videoconferencing comes a related concern—“Zoom fatigue.”

At first, employees didn’t have the words to define or explain this condition. But ever since “Zoom fatigue” was introduced, the phrase has become ubiquitous for describing the exhaustion associated with videoconferencing.

In a recent peer-reviewed article, Nonverbal overload: A theoretical argument for the causes of Zoom Fatigue, Jeremy Bailenson reviews the psychological theory for Zoom fatigue. He also offers four primary explanations for this condition along with related solutions:

Increased eye contact
Not only are we getting direct eye contact from everyone while speaking, we are also receiving direct eye contact as a listener. Additionally, faces appear in unnatural sizes (depending upon the platform and setup), which further reduces our comfort.
Solution: Reduce the size of your videoconferencing window by not using the full-screen option. Also, try to create more space between yourself and your monitor.

Constantly seeing yourself
People become more critical of themselves when subjected to their own reflection. “In the real world, if somebody was following you around with a mirror constantly – so that while you were talking to people, making decisions, giving feedback, getting feedback – you were seeing yourself in a mirror, that would just be crazy,” Bailenson explains. “No one would ever consider that.”
Solution: Depending on your platform, you may be able to utilize the “hide self-view” option.

Videoconferencing reduces normal movement because participants usually need to remain in the same position.
Solution: Try to create flexibility in your videoconferencing environment. To create distance, consider using an external keyboard. Or consider moving an external camera farther away to allow for more movement. Also consider turning off your camera occasionally.

Cognitive Load
When participating in videoconferences, people need to work harder to digest non-verbal cues and gestures.
Solution: To reduce the subconscious cognitive work your brain is doing, consider turning off your video intermittently during longer meetings.

Videoconferencing and working from home have added many new stresses and challenges to our daily work and life routines. To help your organization and employees cope with these and other challenges, please consider FEI’s Organizational Development services.