Video call fatigue is real. Here’s how to fight it in four ways

If you find video calls tiring, don't worry, you're not alone. We've listed four ways on how you can combat video call fatigue so you will no longer feel exhausted after a long day of virtual meetings.

August 14, 2020
Angelique Parungao

Video calls are an essential part of remote work. Aside from helping dispersed employees collaborate by taking meetings online, it has also become a way for those who work from home to socialize with their colleagues, allowing things like happy hours and casual water cooler chats to happen virtually. With that in mind, video calls are a highly effective way to ensure business continuity, staff engagement and high work morale when everyone is working from home. 

However, there’s a unique type of stress and exhausting that can come from having a day of back-to-back virtual conferencing. Often referred to as ‘Video Call Fatigue’, the World Economic Forum describes it as "the feeling of being worn out by endless virtual meetings, chats and quizzes." According to a report from Harvard Business Review, this term has been one of the most popular searches online due to the recent surge of remote work, and has become a hot topic on social media. 

So, what causes Video Call Fatigue?

Experts have weighed in on the reason why video call fatigues occur. Edgehill University cyberpsychology professor, Dr Linda Kaye, shared that one reason could be the act of streaming yourself on the webcam which "enhances our self-awareness to a greater level than usual". This makes participants extra aware of how they present themselves to colleagues who are in the same virtual meeting. 

Meanwhile, Insead associate professor Gianpiero Petriglieri told the BBC that since video calls require more focus than a face-to-face chat. Those who are in a video call need to focus more on non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language, to communicate properly. 

Looking somewhere else during a video call can also make you seem disinterested, so participants tend to gaze at the person they're talking to more than usual. However, prolonged eye contact can cause our brains to overreact. According to the researchers from the University of London, looking at someone for more than three seconds can make people feel uncomfortable. 

With social distancing in place, more teams will continue to make use of video calls to connect and collaborate while working from home. Here are our top 4 tips on how to make the experience less exhausting:

Turn video on only for essential meetings

Some meetings need to be face-to-face, such as all-hands or one-on-one catch ups with your employees. However, consider the fact that many calls can be done just as effectively without video. Try to limit your video calls to the discussions that can truly benefit from that enhanced face-to-face touch. When needed, limiting these calls to a maximum of 30 minutes can help prevent fatigue while also boosting efficiency. 

Schedule your video calls properly

If you have to do several video calls in a day, try to avoid scheduling back-to-back sessions that will become extremely draining. Instead, allow yourself breaks in between each one to be “off” the camera.

Use instant message to discuss 

Without the ability to walk up to your colleagues for an impromptu discussion, it can feel like video calls are the only way to collaborate. However, quality digital chat tools can provide an inclusive, organized and real-time way to communicate that sometimes prove more effective than video calls depending on the agenda at hand. Tools that allow you to organize your instant messages into various topics also help to boost accountability and traceability of tasks. 

Use project management tools to align

Sometimes, you can opt to update tasks without having to go through a video discussion. You can utilize a project management tool where you and your team can give progress on your work in real-time. By having your to-do lists and due dates laid out and available to access across your organization, you don't have to jump into a call every so often to update one another. When tasks and due dates are visible to everyone, you can save your time completing them on time instead of hosting another video conference. 

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