With the start of the pandemic came to onset of many businesses, companies, and schools having to adjust by finding ways to continue to have their employees and or students work from home. Many platforms started to be used more than ever before such as Zoom, WebEx, MS Teams, and Skype. This facilitated employees to be successful working from home while maintaining in contact with their team, staff, supervisors, teachers, peers, etc. All appeared to eventually be running smoothly until the term “Zoom Fatigue” started emerging and becoming a new problem for many people reaching children, teens, and adults alike all using these previously mentioned platforms various hours during the week.
Researchers have used The Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale (ZEFS) in a pilot study to evaluate different forms of videoconferencing fatigue and general fatigue. The Work Satisfaction for Teleworkers Questionnaire (WSTQ) has also been used to measure telework satisfaction. Findings reported Depression symptoms were predicted by Emotional Fatigue and Anxiety scores were significantly predicted as well, suggesting that Zoom Fatigue has direct effects on people’s mental health.
Zoom Fatigue Factors:
The question is “How is Zoom Fatigue generated and how can one counter the effects to be better employees and students in a world where online platforms are still required and used on a daily basis?” Research has noted that it may be more psychologically demanding working with online platforms rather than a face-to-face contact. Components such as visual, social, motivation, and emotions are all part of what creates and maintains Zoom Fatigue. The visual component includes becoming fatigued with having to look at a screen x number of hours with little to no breaks, which affects a person’s concentration and poses a challenge for productivity. The social component includes either extremes of either not getting enough social interactions via the online platforms which can trigger depression symptoms, or the opposite, getting an overload of interactions that are at times required by employers or by schools which then can trigger anxiety symptoms. The motivation component includes a lack of motivation that is often found due to the isolation working from home and not having the normal face to face interactions with others. Lastly, the emotions component may include low self-esteem triggered by having to see oneself on camera for various hours, unlike everyday face to face interactions with peers. This then could lead to an increase in depression and anxiety. Stress can also be triggered due to requirements of “frequent online meetings, meeting duration, lack of structure, impunctuality, and seeing other participants multi-tasking during the meetings” as noted in “The Impact of the “Zoom Fatigue” Phenomenon and Ways of Managing It”.
Combat zoom fatigue:
Remember to SMILE! SMILE is an acronym that can be used to combat Zoom Fatigue. S-structure M-mindfulness I-insert breaks or time caps for meetings L- leave negative thoughts/Allow positive praise to self and others E-exit on screen distractions
Research has noted that meetings longer than an hour may result in negative affects to employee’s wellbeing. Simply being aware of these findings can encourage people to be proactive and mindful of what risk factors to avoid and what adjustments to make if Zoom Fatigue begins to emerge. Always remember to consider what changes you can make that are within your control and make those changes as needed. Lastly, it is recommended to avoid multitasking and reducing on-screen stimulus to minimize the risk of Zoom Fatigue. It is recommended to give yourself visual breaks as well as for use of these platforms to be done within a set schedule and not outside that schedule when it is your down time. Maintaining good boundaries can really help you feel empowered with balancing work/school and personal life at home, and may aid in avoiding or decreasing Zoom Fatigue.
H., Sarres, C. P., Espinoza, Ó. M., Pineda, E. G., & Landa-Blanco, M. (2021, September 11). The effects of telework satisfaction and Zoom fatigue on mental health: a pilot study. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/6chq5