Home office illness, a phenomenon

"Zoom Fatigue" it's called Fatigue Syndrome, which has become widespread in recent months thanks to the corona-related shift in work to the home office. Zoom Fatigue, also known as Zoom Disease, is made up of the word Zoom, a digital tool for conducting video conferences, and the French word "fatigue".

A woman has her head on the laptop. Coach Frankfurt

This neologism is new and due to the current Corona crisis. It means something like lack of concentration or tiredness caused by frequent participation in video conferences and virtual meetings. Of course, it doesn't matter which platform is used. It's about the virtual implementation of remote appointments, which is responsible for this zoom fatigue. Whether you have MS Teams, WebEx, Skype, GoToMeeting or Zoom is irrelevant: video conferences make you tired - more so than we know from face-to-face meetings.

How does the "home office illness" come about?

Changed communication behavior makes you insecure:

An online video conference cannot be compared to a real encounter. Gestures and facial expressions, which play an important role in personal contact and also convey non-verbal information, are completely irrelevant here. Body language is hardly recognizable in digital meetings. This can lead to irritation and strain or zoom fatigue.

No small talk loosens up everyday life:

The lack of a route between meeting rooms makes it even more difficult for us. When we meet in person, we usually have a bit of small talk beforehand. You don't normally do that in a video conference. The relaxed debriefing is also omitted. Instead, for many, the next video call begins immediately.

Private environment puts a strain on communication:

Working in the living room at home gives the other participants an insight into your privacy. In addition, other people living in the apartment can cause restlessness, which has a negative effect on your concentration and leads to distraction. The limited space in the apartment and the knowledge that the pandemic will determine professional and private life for a long time to come create fears, Stress and a general tiredness. This emotional strain can affect work.

Efficiency and speed suppress creativity :

Last but not least, online video conferences are mostly about time efficiency and that demands a lot from us. That requires a lot of concentration. At the same time it is a problem for meetings where you want to be creative and develop new ideas. Creative processes don't work quickly and efficiently. You have to be allowed to digress, which is almost never done in a video conference because it is supposed to be focused and productive.

5 tips to reduce stress during online meetings

Tip 1: Check whether a digital exchange is necessary

BEFORE Corona we made a lot of phone calls and it worked wonderfully. SINCE Corona, almost every appointment is sent via MS Teams or Zoom invitation organized - and this almost creates a compulsion to always turn on the camera. Make a conscious decision as to which conversations can also simply be conducted as telephone calls. By consciously selecting the medium of video phone call or "normal" phone call, you can easily put a stop to zoom fatigue! Your counterpart will thank you.

Tip 2: Plan breaks!

Just like in your usual work environment, you should take breaks between meetings when videoconferencing. Breaks help you get fit - get up and walk around, stretch, have a glass of water, or get some exercise. Clear boundaries and short breaks are important. They create a buffer that helps us focus better on another, new task. Especially when we are constantly moving back and forth between private and professional tasks in our home office. Keep this in mind for virtual meetings that last several hours. Because they are particularly stressful. To keep the participants' attention as long as possible, take shorter breaks of about 10 to 15 minutes.

Tip 3: Make sure that the technical equipment works

Make sure that your software and hardware are suitable for the digital meeting. A smooth exchange is only possible when the communication tool, webcam and headset are compatible.

Tip 4: Take the opportunity to switch off the video optionally

It is not always necessary to have a video running all the time. In meetings with fixed participants, this can be necessary and useful. Training sessions, which often involve passive viewing and less activity, should provide the option to turn off the video. Critics may object that this takes away attention and keeps everyone busy with other things. However, it is a fallacy to believe that the constant presence of everyone also increases the engagement of each individual. Constantly seeing yourself online and live on the screen can lead to a lack of concentration for one or the other.

Those who have the opportunity to pay attention to their own facial expressions, clothing, and appearance may find themselves distracted. Which can negatively affect the quality of the conversation. After all, with analog calls you don't see yourself, only the other party. This problem is easy to solve. You select the "Hide me" function on your video tool and you can no longer see yourself. However, your conversation partner can see you very well.

Tip 5: Keep written records

You can increase your focus and attention by taking notes during the conversation. It also makes it easier for you to remember what was said.

For more tips on the topic of zoom fatigue, please contact us by email or via our Contact form.

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