When the pandemic hit, and the work from home order went into effect, video platforms seemed to fix many of the solutions to meetings, customer demos, and connecting. But it's been over a year now, and some salespeople are feeling the effects of "video fatigue."
Video fatigue or "Zoom fatigue" as it is more commonly known is described by Psychiatric Time as - the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication." Like other experiences associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, video fatigue is widely prevalent, intense, and completely new.
Robert Half states that "44% (of the 500 employees surveyed) say they've experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic; 22% note that the practicality and novelty of videoconferencing have worn off over the past eight months." Have you or your salespeople felt these effects?
Prompted by the recent boom in videoconferencing, communication Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL), examined the psychological consequences of spending hours per day on these video platforms. He has concluded there are four primary reasons why video meetings fatigue us.
A listener is treated nonverbally like a speaker in any video meeting. Even if you are not the main speaker in the meeting, you still have a screen full of faces staring at you. That amount of eye contact is stressful, especially for people with a fear of public speaking.
Most video platforms show a square of what you look like on camera during a video meeting. With a typical in-person meeting, that would not be the case. Bailenson cited studies in his article Technology, Mind, and Behavior showing that you are more critical of yourself when you see a reflection of yourself. Seeing yourself as in a mirror can lead to more self-evaluation, which can be stressful.
Remember when you would hold the phone up to your ear and start walking around the room or house? With video meetings, most cameras have a set field of view, meaning a person has to generally stay in the same spot, especially if they are using a green screen.
Limiting movement can hinder our health and dramatically decrease our creative ability. Three recent American studies performed by Marc T. Hamilton (2007), Pedersen (2009), and Stephens (2010) support the idea that movement during the day is beneficial to you. While sitting, walking, or standing is critical to maintaining wellness, it also helps foster greater concentration and engagement, and boosts productivity.
According to Youth Time, "70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal." But in video chats, we have to work harder to send and receive signals. You have to exaggerate emotions more than a nod or put a thumbs up or click an emoji to pop-up. Something that used to be perceived almost without thought now requires much more processing, leading to exhaustion.
Some companies have fully gone back to in-person meetings, others have implemented hybrid scenarios. When you check your calendar and see video meetings after the meeting, here are a few things to help you and your team with video fatigue.
If you are video-ed out but still have an afternoon one-on-one meeting with no screen sharing material, ask the person to switch to a phone call or push the meeting out so you both can recharge.
If you need a break from a video meeting, ask the facilitator if you can opt-in with only your phone.
Take mini breaks from video during longer calls by minimizing the window, moving it to behind your open applications, or just looking away from your computer for a few seconds now and then. Turn off your camera and take a five-minute audio-only break during a long meeting to give yourself a chance to move around.
You may want to use the "hide self-view" button, which many platforms have. This will make it, so you are not looking at your “mirror self” all day.
Shrink the video window to make other people a little bit smaller. Make it a third of the screen instead of maximized.
People are bombarded with video meetings which can lead to video fatigue. So, to counteract some of the wear and tear of video fatigue, have your salespeople take breaks, hide your self-view, shrink your meeting window, or see if you can take the video meeting to the phone.