What is Zoom Fatigue Syndrome? Symptoms & Solutions

By Drew Moffitt

Fixing Zoom Fatigue

The Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab examined how the increasing use of video conferencing software impacts workers. They found that intensity, lack of mobility, high cognitive load, and the fact that users can see themselves constantly create a phenomenon called "Zoom fatigue." 

Workers who use video conferencing software like Zoom or similar platforms like Google Meet or Skype frequently can actually experience negative physical and psychological effects.

What Is Zoom Fatigue Syndrome?

According to Psychology Today, Zoom fatigue is characterized by tiredness, worry, anxiety, and general mental exhaustion from the frequent use of videoconferencing platforms. These symptoms are similar to those you experience as a result of burnout. In fact, Zoom fatigue can contribute to overall burnout.

Here is a closer look at the symptoms one can experience from overusing videoconferencing tools.


What Are the Symptoms of Zoom Fatigue?

There are physical symptoms of Zoom fatigue, including:

  • Tiredness

  • Headache

  • Muscle tension or stiffness

  • Difficulty sleeping

People with Zoom fatigue symptoms may also notice differences in behavior, outlook, or mental health.

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Forgetfulness

  • Inability to connect with loved ones

  • Frustration with co-workers

Some video conference users may realize they have difficulty picking up nonverbal cues on video screens and in real life.


Why Do Virtual Meetings Feel Tiring?

Why do video conference platforms make people feel this way? During virtual meetings, participants have to work harder to keep track of what's going on while also focusing on presenting themselves to other call participants.

Unlike audio conference calls, you need to focus on each participant closely to pick up visual cues, maintain eye contact, and interpret facial expressions as well as listen to their voice. At the same time, participants need to be aware of their own picture, remaining in the frame and relatively still. The Stanford study also found that most people feel self-conscious about appearing on camera, which adds to the overall stress of the situation.

Also, since the pictures are relatively close up, the brain interprets the calls as intense situations. This means your mind is often in a heightened state of awareness, even if you are not aware of it.

Finally, even in 1-on-1 meetings, video conferencing has a strong speaker-listener dynamic. Users who sit through multiple meetings every day may be unable to concentrate and tune out, losing the collaborative benefits such meetings are supposed to have.

Compounding Factors

The COVID-19 pandemic caused companies to rapidly adopt video conferencing as a stand-in for face-to-face communications when offices shut down due to quarantine restrictions. The impact was almost immediate. Google trends found that searches for Zoom fatigue peaked early in the 2nd quarter of 2020, during the first months of the lockdown.

At this time, team managers were unfamiliar with the process of overseeing remote teams, and their default seemed to be to opt for as much face-to-face time, via Zoom, as possible. Microsoft backs up this theory with data that shows a 55% increase in meeting on the Teams platform during the pandemic. Even without COVID, video meetings are on the rise, with some researchers suggesting an 8% to 10% jump in video conferencing use each year since 2000.


How To Reduce Zoom Fatigue

Remote work is here to stay, and video conferencing is an effective solution for communicating in a decentralized environment. Therefore, employees and managers need to find a way to reduce Zoom fatigue syndrome. Here are some ideas.

  • Turn off your camera occasionally to take a break from appearing onscreen during Zoom calls.

  • Ask if the gathering is necessary. Facilitators should only host video conferences if their meeting has a definable goal and action items and the information cannot be communicated in another way.

  • Opt for pre-made videos or screen shares when possible. It is possible to use these for asynchronous communications. Rather than having everyone attend a meeting, you can send the file to workers, allowing them to view it when they have time.

The solutions to Zoom exhaustion will depend on your office's needs and goals.

Fixing Your Team's Zoom Fatigue Issue

Zoom is a communication tool, so you cannot simply cut it out of your office without a suitable alternative. A virtual office platform like Kumospace offers different communication tools that you can use to interact with peers and management. With a layout that mimics a real office, it offers the flexibility to interact via chat or video so that users are not confined to Zoom.


Alternatives to Zoom

Zoom is the most popular video chat software, but there are several alternatives.

  • Kumospace

  • Google Meet

  • Skype

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Discord

  • Cisco Webex

If you are looking for a more flexible alternative, you should consider virtual office tools like Kumospace.

What Is a Virtual Office Tool?

A virtual office tool is a more immersive digital work environment with different communication and collaboration options that employees can access in one place.


Four Reasons to Use a Virtual Office

Why is a well-designed virtual office preferable to stand-alone tools like Zoom?

  • Streamlined interactions. Instead of relying on Zoom meetings, workers can use chat features or work on uploaded documents in real time, communicating as needed without having to schedule an appointment.

  • Better collaboration. Virtual workspaces eliminate the tedious speaker-listener dynamic of the video meeting, giving workers many unique tools to interact with each other and provide input in real time.

  • Non-human engagement. In a virtual office, users can interact with the environment. For example, they could leave a message on a virtual whiteboard or enter specific rooms.

  • Sense of office community. People who work from home often lack the human connection of office life. Workers can interact casually, and tools like Kumospace can host after-work events where people can socialize.

Looking to Solve Virtual Meeting Fatigue?

If you are looking for a way to escape Zoom fatigue syndrome while also streamlining office communications and collaboration, try using Kumspace. Contact us to learn more about how to deploy this system for your remote teams.

FAQs about Zoom Fatigue

How do you know if you have Zoom fatigue?

If you use video chat tools multiple times per day, and you feel anxious, tired, or irritable or have trouble concentrating, you may be suffering from the symptoms of Zoom fatigue.

When did Zoom fatigue syndrome become a problem?

The video meeting trend took off in 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the use of video chat software has risen steadily for the past two decades. Though it is now more common, Zoom fatigue is not a new phenomenon.

Can you reduce Zoom fatigue?

Most remote workers cannot totally avoid video conferencing. However, their employer can seek to limit Zoom meetings, and they can take steps, such as looking away from the screen from time to time, or taking scheduled breaks during long meetings.

What are the alternatives to Zoom?

Zoom fatigue can affect users of any video conferencing software, including Skype, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex. Virtual workspace tools like Kumospace offer alternatives to video conferencing platforms and helps workers avoid the symptoms they cause.

Transform the way your team works from anywhere.

A virtual office in Kumospace lets teams thrive together by doing their best work no matter where they are geographically.

Headshot for Drew Moffitt
Drew Moffitt

Drew leads marketing at Kumospace. Prior to joining Kumospace, he spent his career founding and operating businesses. His work has been featured in over 50 publications. Outside of work, Drew is an avid skier and sailor. A wholehearted extrovert, he organizes VentureSails, a series of networking events for founders and tech investors.

Transform the way your team works.