Zoom in and Zoom out! Beating ‘Zoom gloom’!
Since the Covid-19 lockdown and the changes in how we work have kicked in: two things have happened. One, more of us have been working from home – often wearing shorts and pyjamas to work meetings! And two, we’ve all been having more video calls.
But I don’t know if it’s just me but I can get a bit tired of them. Now, don’t get me wrong l like connecting with real people but also I’m realising that video calls are making me feel tired too. So I thought I’d investigate.
Are we all Zoom’ed out? Does looking at others on a screen make us tired?
It wasn’t just me thankfully!
According to Gianpiero Petriglieri (Associate Professor of learning and development in the workplace) even though we are meeting face to face online, video meetings are way more draining. Because we aren’t able to relax as much and we are always trying to read the little clues that people project, the micro-signals of their tone of voice, body language and even their tiny facial expressions. Phew, no wonder I get “brain fog” after long Zoom meetings because I’m working harder trying to “read people”, something that I took for granted in face-to-face meetings. He goes on in the BBC article: “…paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,”
There has also been a lot of talk above the awkwardness of online meetings. I was speaking on the phone to a friend the other day and we were talking over each other getting animated and excited and it was fine and seemed very natural. But over video you can’t talk over each other and worse than that there is often a short delay too, where the call drops or there is an awkward silence that makes us repeat ourselves. We had a call with friends last week where we had to abandon it as the connection was just not working and we spent 20 minutes saying “what”, “sorry”, ”can you say that again?” – it was the equivalent of speaking to a friend while sat on the hard shoulder of the M1 – we were talking but couldn’t hear a thing. It felt ‘odd’. No wonder we find them more tiring than face to face meetings.
I remember thinking as a kid how amazing video calling would be, and now it is here in full force, it is not quite all it is cracked up to be! I was on Zoom for five hours the other day and my brain was tired. But why was it, it is only a video call. I then realised that in real-world work meetings we aren’t always 100% there, let’s admit it! We all zone out a bit, i.e. when someone is speaking for too long – we tend to let our minds wander, we notice the odd paintings on the wall, and if they are really boring we start to count the tiles on the ceiling or start thinking what we are going to have for lunch. Then of course we usually zoom back in, but the act of ‘zooming out’ (no pun intended) is a little break for our brain, it’s good for us. We need to remind ourselves of that.
So if you have a long video call or a few in one day, don’t forget to:
Take regular breaks.
Try and get them to keep it to an hour!
Allow ourselves to ‘Zoom out’ occasionally.
Mute your audio/video so you can stand up, stretch and walk around.
Don’t schedule back to back video calls
Also, don’t expect yourself to be more efficient in the lockdown, we are all dealing with lots of change, so schedule rest and breaks.
Video calling is now a big part of work, and it is important, but we as humans cannot be focused on someone’s face on a screen 100% of the time, we’re not robots, so be kind to yourself, take brain breaks and hopefully we’ll start to keep video meetings useful, especially if everyone decides to get to the point a little quicker! But that’s another article altogether!
Lee Jackson is an award-winning Speaker and Presentation Coach. He delivers his ‘Get Good At Work (from home)’ sessions on and offline internationally. You can find him at leejackson.biz and on twitter @leejackson