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There have been many recent articles on the term Zoom Fatigue, how our lives on video conferencing are wearing us out.  In this piece from the Huffington Post, ‘The Psychology Behind Video Calls – And Why They Mess With Our Minds” we are offered five elements to the challenges of video calls.


1. We expect them to be the same as real-life meetings:  The first challenge is learning how to run a meeting via video as they are different than real life meetings.

One of the problems with virtual meetings is we expect them to be no different to our usual face-to-face meetings. But they simply can’t be.

2. We’re missing body language and social cues: We struggle with understanding people beyond the words that are shared.  Even when watching someone on video, it is more challenging to absorb the sights we are used to seeing in the natural setting of being in person.  In all forms of tele-supports and tele-communications, we are tasked with working harder for the same results.  This might be a time to retrain ourselves in how to work with these new modes of communication because they will remain, maybe not in the current acuity but will be here to stay.  Additionally, there is the overstimulation of multiple faces in front of us at the same time.

As soon as we hop on a video call, we concentrate hard on the footage in front of us to compensate for the lack of non-verbal cues in the meeting. Meetings with more than one person have additional challenges because the more faces there are, the more complicated it can be to process.

3. We can’t give the meeting our undivided attention – We are distracted and I think feel less constrained by giving into the distractions.  Perhaps we aren’t as focused on the fact that others see us doing things.  In person, it is easier to feel self-conscious about our focus.  I found this true during a zoom support group I was running in that I was more conscious of seeing the multiple faces at once and finding my reads to be quicker and not as precise.

Anyone who’s been in a video conference call will know how hard it can be to focus – this is called continued partial attention, says Dr Balick. The issue is you’re already at your computer before the virtual meeting starts – answering emails, fiddling with a Word doc, or making a Powerpoint presentation.

4. We’re oversharing more – One of the elements of the current video conferencing modalities is that many of us video chat in whatever space we have.  We are in each other’s home spaces, changing our sense of personal and professional boundaries.  I think this implicitly leads to oversharing, both of our environments and as well as our emotions.

Some say remote working has humanised our workplaces, helping us feel closer to colleagues. Where once we’d be called into a boss’s office for an appraisal, instantly affected by the power dynamic, now we’re seeing leaders in messy living rooms, bedrooms, and with kids running around in the background…

“In some cases, people are liable to say more about their emotional feelings,” says Dr Balick. “You don’t have all those people around you [in real life] who might make you feel ashamed to speak your mind.”

5. We’re missing social, informal interactions – The meetings have a sense of formality within the increased informal settings and situations.  Losing the personnel banter and connection changes the dynamic and challenges our connection.

Having interactions between colleagues that are purely social benefits everyone, he says. He suggests being purposeful about social interactions – “you have to think of working from home as not just a task-orientated affair”. As part of this, companies might want to incorporate non-work-based online socials such as after work drinks or a weekly quiz.

Overall, this article provides a good perspective on group interaction.  However, it  doesn’t offer as much regarding the 1 on 1 meetings.  Nevertheless, I would surmise these same principles and difficulties would arise, at least to a lesser degree, in individual counseling and therapy.

I think this is the time to try out methods that can help taper the fatigue and challenge so that when we have to work on integrating tele-work in our in person professional lives, we are better set to embrace all of these technological innovations.