Is Zoom fatigue a thing?

During the last year of remote working because of the pandemic and lockdowns the in-office meeting has been replaced by the online video (Zoom) version.

But, as researchers from leading business research and advisory company, Gardner, point out, not only have we not questioned the procedures generally built around a 9-5 office day, but there is an additional pressure from online video meetings:

“Virtual meetings are cognitively draining – when was the last time someone held a mirror in front of you during your in-person chat so your brain had to process your every physical move?”

The necessity for so many meetings is explored in this Wired article, which quotes one Hong Kong-based company as realising that after a year of daily video calls due to remote working: “We started to realise they started working against us. ..There was no need for all these meetings. Emails are honestly more efficient, and we’re all burnt out from chatting on Zoom all day.”

A researcher at Stanford University, USA, pinpoints both the “staring in a mirror” analogy and the fact that video calls demand continuous focus and limit the ability to move around as well as the absence of the non-verbal signals we pick up in face to face meetings.

Phil Perry, head of Zoom UK and Ireland, says: “Virtual meeting fatigue is “a real and natural problem .. After more than a year of video meetings, people can occasionally forget the simplicity and speed of asking a question through a message – instead, automatically opting for a Zoom call.”

Businesses perhaps need to re-think the need for frequent meetings in this new environment and to ask themselves whether alternative means of communications, from email to a phone call, might be more appropriate to some circumstances.