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By David GordonDirector, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

The friction many teams are experiencing at this stage of the pandemic may be symptomatic of the strain we feel when we replace frequent in-person contact with poor video substitutes over a long period. The encouraging news is that while "Zoom fatigue" is real, it also has easily explained roots and correspondingly simple solutions.1

  • "Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense." Even silent participants in a video call can experience the same pressure as the speaker, with other participants appearing to be looking at them. Encourage team members to switch off their cameras and mute themselves when they are not speaking.
  • "Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing." We are not used to seeing our own faces when we speak with someone — seeing ourselves on screen for prolonged periods is like having a "virtual mirror" as we go about our business. You might look to reduce your reliance on video conferences by rediscovering the telephone.
  • "Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility." The requirement to remain on screen severely limits our accustomed freedom of movement. Occasionally turn off your camera and seize opportunities to stand up and move around your workspace.
  • "The cognitive load is much higher in video chats." Many of the nonverbal cues we give and receive during face-to-face conversations are hard to replicate in video chats. To help keep your focus on the discussion itself, set team expectations on what meetings are best served with video or conference calls.
  • If these causes of "Zoom fatigue" resonate with you, try out the solutions for yourself and see how much better you feel and if the friction in team meetings lessens.

    Bottom line: Understanding the causes of — and solutions to — "Zoom fatigue" can breathe new energy into your virtual team interactions.