What is Zoom Fatigue?

The term “Zoom Fatigue” has been floating around in a lot of articles and media stories since March when remote work began. Unfortunately, I don’t see an end to this discussion about the impacts of Zoom Fatigue for a while. 

So what is Zoom Fatigue and will it impact schools that go virtual this fall? Zoom Fatigue is the term used to describe being exhausted from remote work and being on video calls, whether it’s Zoom or another video meeting platform. There’s actual science behind it, too. The cause of it comes from a lot of different aspects of virtual work. 

A Few Zoom Fatigue Causes

  • Increased Focus on Conversation: Employees have to spend more mental energy focusing on the conversation when they can’t easily ask clarifying questions (without awkwardly trying to unmute and cut someone off) or quickly whisper to a neighbor to bring you up to speed if you missed something. 
  • More Discipline to Avoid Distractions: The constant thought that employees could be checking emails or surfing the web makes it hard to stay present in the meeting. It takes a lot of mental energy to talk yourself out of doing that. 
  • Social Anxieties Without Non-Verbal Cues: Many people rely on non-verbal cues to feel comfortable in a conversation and read the room when they’re talking. When that’s not possible, people can worry that they are not being perceived well. It takes a lot of mental energy constantly questioning yourself and the social aspects of a video meeting.
  • Worries About Home Issues Interfering: There’s additional stress on people worrying that a parent, child, or other roommates will disrupt the conversation in the background. The worries that employees may be viewed as “unprofessional” if these disturbances happen could be in employee’s heads for the entire day, especially when school is virtual.
  • Increases Self-Consciousness: When you’re in a normal work meeting, you don’t think about yourself being stared at. During a Zoom meeting, you are made very aware that everyone is staring at your face. That can be a huge mind game in itself. Many people end up watching themselves during an entire meeting to make sure their face is emoting properly. This can lead to missing important information, or just spending extra mental energy worrying about everyone looking at you (including yourself!).

How will this impact students in the fall?

The list actually goes on. These are just a few of the factors that are contributing to Zoom Fatigue. These are mostly focused on how they impact working adults. But what about our students who will be in virtual school starting in the fall? They will also be in danger of Zoom Fatigue and additional mental strain on young children and teens. 

This may have sounded like all negative information, but there are ways we can help our students proactively. 

Help Students Avoid Multitasking:

Make sure students’ physical space is not cluttered. Students should also have the Zoom view on full screen to avoid pulling up other websites or online activities. 

Build in Breaks:

Build-in brain breaks during your lesson and also breaks throughout the virtual school day. This will help motivate students to step away from the screen. This is crucial for students’ focus and mental energy. 

Phone Calls for One-on-One Help:

If teachers or students feel overwhelmed with Zoom Fatigue, try to have one-on-one tutoring or office hours via phone instead of video. 

Sprinkle in Paper-Based Work:

If this can happen safely, send students workbooks or novels/books that they can use during the school day to have some low-tech learning into the school day schedule. 

Have a Mindfulness Activity to Start Class:

Teachers can start out class with a mindfulness activity to limit the amount of multitasking, increase social-emotional health, and increase their ability to focus and be present.

Do Frequent Checks for Understanding:

Because it’s easy to miss something during class because of Zoom Fatigue, make sure teachers are using frequent CFU’s in the video lesson. This will help misunderstandings get corrected quickly so students aren’t confused for a long period of time. 

If you want to discuss more about how to support students in virtual learning, email amanda@possip.com.