Work is tiring, there’s no doubt about that, but many people find that they’re more tired than usual. Among these are office workers who were forced to work remotely and rookie freelancers and virtual assistants. Because many businesses have hired and will likely continue to hire a virtual assistant or freelancer to supplement their workforce, more people will find that they’re experiencing something called “Zoom fatigue.”
According to Psychiatric Times, Zoom fatigue is “the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication.” Work from home formats will require employees to use virtual communication platforms more than usual as they talk to clients and coworkers in meetings.
Remote workers will find that continuously talking through video calls is exhausting and draining, and it’s easy to suffer from not only work-from-home burnout but also Zoom-based burnout.
Difference Between Regular Burnout and Zoom Fatigue
Project managers can easily get burnt out with their regular workload since they’re more involved in communication, which usually accounts for about 80% of their workload. Regular office workers forced to use Zoom more often had a harder time than those already used to it.
Also, it’s difficult to determine whether someone is suffering from regular burnout or Zoom fatigue. A Stanford University research paper identifies five categories of fatigue that can be associated with Zoom fatigue.
- General fatigue
- Visual fatigue
- Social fatigue
- Motivational fatigue
- Emotional fatigue
The difference between plain old tiredness and Zoom fatigue becomes apparent when people even avoid social events. This is like how introverts recharge their batteries after being part of multiple social events.
Why are Virtual Meetings so Exhausting?
Virtual meetings are exhausting thanks to several factors associated with the nature of virtual meetings that are more common in remote work.
- Too Much Eye Contact
- Less Freedom of Movement
- Virtually Looking at a Mirror All-Day
Anyone lucky enough to only need to join a voice call instead of a video call can take advantage of Bluetooth headphones to freely move while in a call. Voice calls are arguably less tiring than video calls because of the lack of eye contact and the possibility of having more mobility, but managers should still keep in mind not to call a meeting when what’s going to be talked about can be done so through an email. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many remote workers and virtual assistants out there.
How to Avoid Zoom Fatigue
Zoom meetings became the norm during the early days and the height of the pandemic, and they might not go away anytime soon, even in the post-COVID world. Many businesses will likely continue to hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines as they have already benefited from the services of veteran VAs and freelancers in the past. Even companies that won’t hire any virtual assistant but opt to adopt a Hybrid Work Setup will still rely on Zoom meetings.
Because Zoom meetings won’t likely go away anytime soon, employees, freelancers, and virtual assistants will need to know how they can make the Zoom app work for them.
Focus on the Call
People should avoid multitasking and just focus on the call, even though it’s tempting to do something else while on a Zoom meeting. Our article titled 6 Productivity Hacks to Win Every Day talks about how there’s only 2.5 percent of people who can multitask.
It’s safe to assume that a regular employee and virtual assistant cannot multitask, so it’s better to focus on the meeting instead of squeezing in work while on a call. Multitasking is counter-productive, burns mental energy, and makes people ineffective in meetings and in their regular work.
Change Up Communication Channels
When a VA controls how they can communicate with other people, they should consider foregoing voice and video calls for a time and only communicating through emails, Skype, chats, and other means. Using a different communication channel is advisable to take a break while still being able to talk about work-related matters.
Bosses and managers should consider using other communication channels to maintain employee morale and not exhaust them with endless Zoom meetings. Arranging for meetings in the office or in a cafe from time to time is also advised when just having team meetings.
Once a Zoom meeting is over, the participants must take a break to re-energize themselves. If the meeting doesn’t end soon, the participants should call for short breaks to not get burnt out. Nobody wants to be stuck in a call for hours while staring at a computer screen.
If meetings are a constant in an employee’s life, then they should consider taking a proper rest by applying for leave and going on a vacation. It’s best to unwind whenever possible, and taking a break from the computer screen is the ideal way to do this.
Give Yourself More Space
Because virtual meetings can be restrictive, people should do everything they can to free themselves from such restrictions and have more mobility. Using Bluetooth-capable computer components is advisable so people can have more freedom of where they’ll work and receive calls.
When a video feed isn’t required, it’s possible to take a call while pacing or lying down by using Bluetooth headphones. Suppose the VA uses a laptop instead of a desktop computer. In that case, they can even switch working locations when they need to take a call so they won’t be restricted to one location and even use Bluetooth peripherals to have more freedom.
Zoom fatigue is real, and people must know how to avoid it so they won’t have to get burnt out. People offering virtual assistant services won’t be able to give their best when burnt out from virtual meetings, and there’s really no way to avoid the meetings when it’s part of the job. So, they’ll need to make the most of their remote work setups and work smartly to avoid zoom fatigue and the resulting burnout. They can also read more in our previous article titled “How to Overcome WFH Burnout” to supplement the abovementioned solutions.
Freelance and independent VAs who have a hard time achieving a work-life balance AND getting burnt out by excessive meetings should consider joining a team of professional VAs to get this. By joining a VA company Philippines like OVA Virtual, Filipina VAs can achieve an outstanding work-life balance where they can earn a steady income while having more time with their loved ones.