With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen a massive increase in the use of webinars, web-conferencing solutions and other methods of working from home. As many businesses keep operating while adhering to social distancing, these communication methods have become a vital part of everyday, working life. With this new reality, people have started to feel exhausted more often from video calls and tend to lose attention and become more irritable and sore. This is due to a phenomenon known as ‘Webinar Fatigue’.

How does Webinar Fatigue affect us?

Webinar Fatigue, also known as ‘Zoom Fatigue or ‘Virtual Fatigue’, has been described as the use of video conferencing software that becomes mentally taxing for its users and leads to irritation and exhaustion. “Not only do they have to coordinate the conference call, they need to create the illusion of eye contact through technology while still trying to process the other person’s words. Combining all of these activities can be mentally exhausting.”

Webinar fatigue is a medically-recognised condition caused by having to maintain communication over video for sustained periods of time. Typically, a person in a video call has to keep an upright posture, maintain their attention and their eye-contact and be aware and in control of their facial expressions throughout. Having to maintain this attention for a long period of time causes a great deal of discomfort, especially when this becomes a frequent occurrence or part of a daily schedule.

This fatigue causes a number of effects on a person’s health such as sensitivity to light and eye strain, disturbing sleep patterns and irritability. Holding a visibly-attentive posture for a long period of time can also cause pain in the back, neck and shoulders which can be very distressing and may have a negative impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

Plan on having fewer video calls

Sometimes, communicating via video call is the norm when it is not necessary and other methods of communication could be more efficient. It may be useful to try to succinctly get across a message, convey plans, share information and recap on the day’s events by instead using text. Teams could use a group text-chat, social media group or other team collaboration tools to stay in touch and exchange information in a faster and more concise way.

In a team’s schedule, it could be useful to have time designated as free from any meetings or calls. Having frequent or unnecessary meetings can interrupt team members as they’re working and having to switch from concentrating on a task to instead attending a call and then having to shift their concentration back again once the meeting is finished.

Cutting down on the number of calls a team uses to conduct business is also a valuable step to combatting webinar fatigue. For starters, maybe have a talk with your team about consolidating your daily meetings into weekly ones. Many calls could be summed up either through a text message or by going through the week’s events at the beginning or end of the week instead. A weekly meeting could go through a plan of what would typically be covered day-by-day and stop the team from having to organise and participate in so many calls each day.

Making calls less exhausting and more productive

It is important to have an agenda when organising and planning via video call. Nothing makes a call feel more exhausting and long-winded than nobody having any plan of what to discuss. Assigning a member of the team to the role of writing up an agenda, even if it is a loose plan, may help to keep meetings succinct. It is also recommended to have a timeframe in mind and try to keep meetings brief. Sometimes you do need to have a prolonged meeting to discuss something with the tram, in these circumstances it would be wise to schedule breaks part-way through the meeting so that everyone can take some time away from the screen.

As well as the timing of video calls, experiment with switching off your view of your own camera. Many video call platforms will both give you the option to see your own video feed as well as hiding it. As discussed earlier, seeing your own video feed and being self-conscious and aware of your own appearance at all times can be mentally exhausting, so it may also help to switch your camera off entirely and simply rely on voice communication.

Conclusion

So in order to make your own work-life more productive, protect your mental health and wellbeing and ensure that you can work alongside your colleagues without feeling the drain of video calls and webinars, remember what we have discussed. Cut back on the number of calls and be prepared to say no to a video call that is not needed. Use text, video recordings and avoid always having your camera on. Remember to take time away from the screen and make time for yourself and your own health when you need to. If you follow this advice, we hope that your team will have a much more enjoyable time with webinars and if you would like more help or advice, please contact Learnium.

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