Zoom Fatigue Means Something About Company Culture

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We're all familiar with it — that deep-seated brain sludge that hits after one video call too many. COVID-19 has made telecommuting and remote work a normal part of our lives for the past year, but we're still learning how to cope with the physical effects of Zoom meetings. Some things you can change by adjusting your monitor, but others stem from something bigger.

Psychologists at Old Dominion University have just released a study linking videoconferencing, fatigue, and company culture. It's not actually that far-fetched: The researchers found that video call participants were far less likely to report fatigue when they experienced a sense of belonging with other members of the call. This might explain why your staff meeting can drag on and leave you drained all day, but your D&D group energizes you even after hours on a campaign.

Not every Zoom meeting is the fun kind, of course, so it's helpful to know what you can do on your end to reduce physical side effects. We've got a number of options for systemic changes that can ease Zoom fatigue, though, from restructuring meetings from the ground up to creating serendipity that helps remote workers build casual friendships. Even the way we understand leadership looks different when it's all on video.

As for the researchers, their tips are ultimately pretty simple: Allow for small talk at the start of a meeting, establish a common set of rules and expectations for meeting behavior, and try to schedule for the early afternoon. And of course, if a meeting could be a phone call or an email — definitely do that instead.