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The Age Of Video Conferencing And Remote Working: Ways To Overcome Exhaustion And Fatigue

During the COVID-19 pandemic and the post-pandemic period, video conferencing turned from a phenomenon to the need and usage skyrocketed worldwide because of shelter-in-place. The research on psychological effects and mechanism of video conferencing, however, is limited, and this dramatically expanded implementation of such platforms is being studied by researchers. Short, intense learning sessions may be a useful method of learning.

Students, teachers, and employees also report that remote learning and remote working contribute to higher levels of stress. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and other video conferencing channels are vital if we cannot meet in person, but the greater practice of such platforms is letting the participants feel “drained”. 

According to scientist Jeremy Bailenson, Professor and Director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, “Technology can disrupt our normal intricate human communication methods that have been finely tuned over centuries to help humans survive.”

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Statistics reveal that the use of popular online video conferencing platform, Zoom, due to coronavirus pandemic soared to 300 million by April 2020, while only ten million people attended Zoom meetings at the end of 2019. The phenomenon was dubbed after the popular video conferencing software as “Zoom Fatigue” with the growth in usage. Businesses that can be run by these platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams have continued to function as usual during quarantine, enabling people to move their lives through remote work while retaining their physical distance so that the spread of the virus can be lowered.

Why Do We Get Fatigued From Using Video Conferencing Tools?

Harder to maintain Focus: According to the Harvard Business Review, the amount of concentration expected in a video meeting is higher than in person meetings. Mostly, individuals typically have fewer disruptions in a joint physical meeting room than online meetings. When on a zoom meeting, the urge to check an email or open a browser tab is much stronger than anything we would deem appropriate in a face-to-face environment. There are often also other family members who may be vying for consideration. Multitasking (disruption caused by attending to several tasks) is mentally fatiguing.

Conveying Information Feels Much Tough: The visual signals we get in face to face meetings are easier to map. The nonverbal body language in a video conference is even more difficult to interpret since we usually only see the faces of other people. Our ability to gauge the reactions of others in a video call takes more “work” and can zap our energy.

Disturbances: In the middle of the session, there are several distractions that participants can encounter. The confusion about being muted or how to lift or lower a little hand interrupts the normal flow of communication that we feel in person. The chatbox may also break the conversation and cause meetings to jump back and forth. The background can also be an extra distraction.

Body Maintenance: We travel on the field between schools and buildings for meetings, get supplies or even have lunch. The desire to sit in one place for a much longer duration is fatiguing. Many of us lack a proper working environment and are unable to improvise a decent working room at home, nor do we have appropriate chairs to support good posture.

How To Fix Screen Fatigue? 4 Tips You Can Try.

Be Visible To Other Participants: We recognize that unstable internet access can mean that you need to choose audio over video and that some of us may be concerned with the interference of household members or with privacy or other personal issues, but when most members have their cameras on, the degree of interaction is far higher. However, you can always select turn off your view option. Hiding self view helps you to behave more instinctively, as you would in a face-to-face conversation.

Avoid Distractions: To prevent interruption, turn off notifications that pop up or ping and close all windows prior to the start of the meeting or training. Try experimenting with the use of a “speaker” view instead of a gallery view. This would eliminate the distractions of monitoring the responses of others and more precisely replicate the way you will concentrate in a face-to-face conference. If at all practicable, position your workstation in a way so that the “view” behind the screen is not prone to movement. Being next to a natural light window avoids eye strain and a clear view can be a good background as well.

Separate Certain Time For Yourself: Try to restrict the number of video meetings for each day. Work to identify alternatives, such as chatting, e-mailing to accomplish the purpose of the conducting meeting. Meetings are more effective because they have a specific agenda that relies on decision-making rather than knowledge sharing. Be more selective with non-required video meetings. Check for chances for face-to-face social contact while adhering to safety procedures outside. Whether you’re attending or expected to attend a lengthy meeting, set aside some time for an ice breaker. 

Focus on Body Health: To keep the blood flowing, make sure to stretch the body frequently, go for a short stroll or do a burst of jumping jacks or burpees. Try not to eat lunch or snacks in the workplace, try to find a fresh air place like a balcony.

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