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Working in your pajamas from the comfort of your home is nice. The commute is quite convenient, and so is the short walk to your kitchen to grab a bite at lunchtime. But, remote work also has its drawbacks. 

If you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open and your brain focused, you might be experiencing virtual fatigue.

You know the feeling. After hours of virtual Zoom meetings, Slack conversations, and back and forth emails, your mind and body start to drag by the end of the day. 

Are you looking for ways to deal with virtual fatigue? 

We’ve got a few tips to help you get through your remote workday without feeling drained. We’ll address some of the reasons we feel virtual fatigue and different ways to cope.

What Causes Virtual Fatigue?

Virtual fatigue is more than just a trending phrase; it’s real. 

It’s exhausting to spend the majority of your workweek communicating through your computer. For many people, remote work also presents the added challenge of adjusting to an entirely new way of working.

Before everyone started quarantining due to COVID-19, you may have had a Zoom call here and there. But now, all of a sudden, everyone’s Zooming everywhere. 

In April 2020 alone, Zoom saw 300 million daily meeting participants. 

In July of 2020, Microsoft Teams researched remote work and how it affects our brains. They found that remote work can feel more difficult than when we’re working with others in-person. 

They also found that video meetings, in particular, are associated with stress and fatigue, compared to other remote work, like messaging through email or in Slack.

Microsoft’s findings suggest the following factors result in feelings of virtual fatigue: 

  • Focusing on a screen for long periods
  • A lack of non-verbal communication
  • Not having a life-size view of the people you’re talking to
  • Trying to balance working from home with other household tasks
  • Difficulty finding a quiet space to focus at home

How to Avoid Zoom Fatigue

If you’re experiencing Zoom fatigue, there are a few things you can do to prevent over-exhaustion.

1. Take a Break (or Multiple Breaks)

Your brain isn’t meant to stay hyper-focused every minute of the day. It needs a break now and then, especially if you plan to be on multiple video calls throughout the day.

When scheduling meetings, try to work in a buffer between them. Give yourself time to get up and walk around a bit so that your mind can recharge. 

If you can’t do it after every meeting, at least make sure to take a break every couple of hours. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself struggling to concentrate.

2. Shoot for Shorter Meetings 

It’s not always possible to dictate a meeting’s length, but if you can, limit them to 30 minutes. If you aren’t able to get to everything in that timeframe, schedule a follow-up meeting for later in the day. 

That way, you can give your brain a break from video calls and come back to the topic feeling refreshed. 

3. Break Up Longer Meetings

If you can’t shorten your meeting, work in multiple short breaks instead — especially if it’s a particularly long meeting. You can cover a lot of ground and still allow your brain to rest when it needs to. You’ll likely have a more productive meeting as a result.

4. Minimize On-Screen Distractions

When you’re on a video call, you’re not only looking at the many faces on your screen; you’re also looking at everything going on in their backgrounds. With so many faces and objects to take in, it’s no wonder why we lose focus so quickly. 

Save yourself from virtual exhaustion by asking your group members to turn off video when they aren’t speaking.

5. Swap Out Some Virtual Meetings with Phone Calls

Not every meeting requires video. While it’s nice to interact with people face-to-face, we all need a break sometimes. Think about whether video conferencing is necessary before you book your next Zoom call.

If you’re suffering from virtual fatigue, remember to:

  • Take breaks often
  • Opt for a phone call vs. Zoom
  • Keep meetings short
  • Avoid virtually overbooking yourself

Check out our list of remote resources to help you succeed while working from home.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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