narcissusteamsWho knew the mental fatigue Narcissus of Greek mythological fame must have endured from gazing upon his own visage in that pool's reflection? Well, while Narcissus did it from a place of narcissism, some remote workers in virtual conferences are finding themselves overly observant of their own video stream, vigilant of any flaws in their appearance or behavior they might perceive.

With the rise of work-at-home jobs and virtual meetings, remote workers are discovering new obstacles that did not exist in an office workplace. One of the latest hurdles is what Stanford researchers are terming Zoom Fatigue, or Zoom Anxiety, which is fatigue or anxiety stemming from video calling. This mental drain comes from intense, prolonged eye contact, energy spent identifying social cues while being a step removed, limited movement, and continuously watching yourself on video. Even after a year of many workplaces transitioning to remote spaces, people are still struggling with the new etiquette and eccentricities of video calling platforms.

A recent study by Buffalo 7 of 2,000 home workers revealed that 70% of people have suffered Zoom Anxiety. Those affected by this fatigue and anxiety are more likely to avoid contributing, even more so if asked to appear on video. The biggest triggers of video call anxiety named by the participants were:

  • Having tech/audio problems and not knowing how to fix them (83%)
  • Being unable to read caller's body language (67%)
  • Feeling like you're not being heard (56%)
  • Being put on call without time to prepare appearance/worrying about how you look on camera (56%)

This and other similar studies have suggested strategies that might counterbalance the stress video calls put on participants. Some of these suggestions include: getting some distance from the webcam to increase your sense of personal space; hide self-view video feed; periodically turn off your camera, and turn away from the screen for a few seconds to "reset."

To help your team members who suffer from Zoom Anxiety, tips have also been provided by the studies to limit calls, make cameras optional, and always give notice for the participants to prepare.

To learn more about the Buffalo 7 study, click here.