A man (working from home) using a laptop, in an online meeting with a woman, feeling mental burnout.
Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images
  • Video calls are looking like a regular fixture as office workers shift to a hybrid working model.
  • Endless video calls can be exhausting, and aren't always the best format for conveying information.
  • Insider spoke to communications coach Karin Reed for some tips on how to cope with Zoom fatigue.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

With hybrid work looking like the norm for many office workers in 2021 and 2022, the issue of Zoom fatigue is unlikely to go away.

The reasons for Zoom burnout vary from being exhausted by looking at your own image onscreen to the unnatural, turn-based conversation video calls require. Some 38% of US workers polled in November 2020 had suffered some form of Zoom fatigue, according to the consultancy Robert Half.

And a Stanford study released in April 2021 suggests women experience higher levels of Zoom fatigue than men.

Karin Reed is a communications coach and co-author of "Suddenly Virtual", which aims to help managers and employees cope with the sudden shift online.

Here are her tips for beating call fatigue:

1. Push back on video meetings

Having fewer meetings is the obvious starting point, said Reed. Before scheduling any, you should think about whether specific tasks require a meeting and whether you're using your meetings in the right way.

"If you are using a meeting just to share information, and there is no expectation of discussion or dialogue, that is not an effective hybrid meeting," she said.

Meetings should be purpose-driven and shorter - 45 minutes max - and ensure that you, as host, are staying on track, said Reed. You should also schedule recovery time in between meetings, she added.

Fewer meetings doesn't have to mean poorer communication.

Think about how you can communicate information in other ways, said Reed, highlighting that recording asynchronous video and asynchronous audio methods are becoming increasingly popular.

Recording a video of you presenting a presentation and posting it in a Slack channel for people to watch in their own time can be much more efficient and "richer" than composing a 300-word email, she added.

2. Do meeting prep to make the most of your time

Meetings can often feel overwhelming because we don't have enough time to adequately prepare.

Sending out documents and reports in advance is "critical" as is "holding people's feet to the fire" to ensure that they've read them, said Reed.

It's also essential to ensure that everybody in your team is trained properly, said Reed, adding that this isn't just in terms of using tech, but also how to communicate effectively - both can be causes of friction.

In a hybrid work setting, just coming to an agreement about how work is going to be done is also essential.

"Ensure that all communication is visible, regardless of location," said Reed. "You don't want to create a two-tiered system."

That requires a higher level of documentation and always an eye towards asking whether people have access to the same information whether they're in the office or remote.

3. Switch off self-view

"We don't walk around with a mirror to our faces as we are talking to people face to face," said Reed. "For the first time a lot of us are seeing ourselves communicate in real time, and that can be disconcerting - and distracting."

This is sometimes referred to as mirror anxiety.

Most video call platforms should have an option where you can 'hide self-view' and take your own image off your screen, without turning your camera off. In some cases, it's important that your colleagues can still read your non-verbal cues.

Ensuring you're looking straight into the camera while talking can also reduce the impact of having to stare at yourself looking back, said Reed.

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