Zoom Burnout Is Real – Here’s How to Avoid It

example image of zoom burnout with man at desk

In 2020, people all over the world became familiar with the Zoom app — and Zoom burnout. 

Zoom was one of the fastest-growing apps of the pandemic. The number of meeting participants grew by 2,900 percent that year, and Zoom currently has over 350 million active monthly users.

With so many people relying on Zoom each day for meetings, there has also been an increase in the number of people feeling fatigued from sitting in video conversations each day.

If you’ve been struggling with these issues lately, this guide can help. Read on to learn more about what Zoom burnout is, what it can do to your team’s work performance, and how you and your team can avoid it.

What Is Zoom Burnout?

Do you know that feeling of absolute exhaustion that seems to hit whenever you end a team meeting on Zoom? That’s Zoom burnout.

Yes, Zoom burnout is real. Psychology experts also have lots of thoughts on why these popular video meetings can be so draining.

According to Dr. Brian Wind of the American Psychological Association, Zoom calls (and other video calls, for that matter) cause the brain to “work overtime to process information.” It’s harder to pick up on social cues when communicating via video, which means the brain has to work harder and use more energy to keep up. 

In the same article linked above, Dr. Diana Concannon, who is the dean of the California School of Forensic Studies at Alliant International University, also notes that when humans see themselves on the video screen, they feel that they are “on stage” and experience a “compulsion to perform.” This feeling causes them to use more energy than they would if they were meeting in person.

How Can Zoom Burnout Affect Performance?

Zoom fatigue or Zoom burnout can have several negative impacts on employees and team leaders.

It’s not just about being a little more tired than normal. In addition to feeling fatigued, some other Zoom burnout symptoms that may interfere with team performance include:

  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Mood swings
  • Decreased motivation and productivity
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Social detachment from colleagues, family, and friends
  • Increased feelings of pessimism
  • Difficulty sleeping, which increases fatigue during the day
  • More frequent headaches or migraines
  • Chronic muscle pain and tension

Anyone can develop these symptoms and be affected by Zoom fatigue. However, it’s especially prevalent among those who already have pre-existing mental health challenges, as well as those who are struggling with higher levels of stress.

How to Avoid Zoom Burnout on Your Team

Do any of these symptoms of Zoom fatigue sound familiar to you? Are you ready to do whatever you can to get rid of them and prevent them from coming back?

The following are 10 tips that will help you and your team members to avoid Zoom burnout: 

1. Cut Back on Zoom Meetings

The first step to preventing Zoom fatigue is to be more intentional with your Zoom meetings. When you can, swap them out for emails, group chats, or phone calls.

You can also use team management software like Weekdone to check in with your team, monitor progress, and schedule weekly reviews. The right technology will make life easier for everyone.

2. Create and Distribute a Meeting Agenda

When a Zoom meeting is the best or only option, take the time to review your team meeting checklist and create an agenda beforehand.

Distribute that agenda to everyone who will be attending the meeting. Then, do what you can to stick to it. This helps to set clear expectations right from the start and ensures everyone is on the same page.

3. Minimize On-Screen Stimuli

During a typical Zoom call, it’s easy to lose focus when you’re trying to listen to your boss but you’re also noticing one colleague petting their dog while someone else is sneaking away to answer the door.

Try to minimize on-screen stimuli by keeping the Zoom window on speaker view. Close all other programs and browser windows, too.

4. Schedule Regular Breaks

If possible, don’t schedule back-to-back Zoom meetings. Give yourself at least 10 to 15 minutes in between Zoom meetings — if not longer.

During these breaks, truly rest. Get up from your desk and go for a short walk, do some stretches, get a drink, take some deep breaths, etc.

5. Ditch the Self-View Screen

As we mentioned when we quoted Dr. Concannon earlier, seeing ourselves on screen can be nerve-wracking and contributes to Zoom fatigue.

Consider hiding the self-view screen so you don’t have to see yourself during the meeting. This might feel a little strange at first. However, you’ll quickly adjust and will then enjoy the relief of not worrying so much about what you look like.

6. Only Use Audio When Possible

Don’t need to have your camera on at all during your Zoom meetings? Consider turning it off and only using audio.

Sometimes, a voice conversation is all you need to get your point across and check in with your team. If this is less tiring for you, and the rest of your team members agree, make a pact to only use audio except on special occasions, such as during presentations.

7. Disconnect the Wires

The feeling of being literally tethered to your desk by keyboard wires, headphone wires, and charger cables can be extra tiring and stressful. Switch to wireless technology when possible so you can adjust and move around more easily during meetings.

8. Use a Transcription App During Meetings

If taking notes during meetings contributes to your fatigue, try a transcription app.

These tools take notes for you and leave you free to sit back and listen without worrying that you’re missing anything important. You can also record the conversations so you can play them back later.

9. Don’t Multitask 

On a similar note, resist the urge to multitask during Zoom meetings — especially audio-only meetings where the temptation may be greater. Try to be present and focus on the task at hand. Multitasking has been shown to be more fatiguing for the brain and will only make your Zoom burnout worse.

10. Make Your Office More Comfortable

Do what you can to make your office more comfortable, too.

Invest in a high-quality, ergonomic office chair, for example, so you can minimize back and neck pain during your Zoom meetings — and while taking care of other work-related tasks.

Keep the windows open if possible as well. This lets you enjoy some natural light and its energizing benefits.  

Say Goodbye to Zoom Burnout Today

There’s no denying it — Zoom burnout is real.

  • Zoom calls and other video calls cause your brain to work harder than it does during regular meetings, which increases exhaustion
  • Zoom burnout can reduce productivity, increase physical and mental fatigue, contribute to depression and anxiety, and impact concentration and memory
  • Figuring out how to avoid Zoom burnout is essential in 2022
  • Creating and following an agenda, avoiding video calls when possible, increasing comfort in your office, and avoiding multitasking are all useful techniques that can help you and your team to prevent Zoom fatigue

Utilizing the right technology can help you to plan your meetings, communicate with your team in other ways, and make sure you’re still on track toward accomplishing your goals.

Check out Weekdone – Team Compass today to see how it can increase your productivity and create a results-based company culture among your team members.