A recent survey by Chicago-based Challenger, Gray and Christmas found 73% of companies plan to keep their teams working from home, even after the pandemic is over.
But those video meetings that have now taken over how people work and socialize are causing additional burnout to already anxious workers, according a release by the outplacement and career firm.
"As we do our work remotely and keep our distance from our closest friends and family, meetings are occurring throughout the workday and into the night, but the phenomenon known as 'Zoom fatigue' is a reality," said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
The term refers to the videoconferencing app Zoom, which has been around since 2011. It's similar to other platforms like FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. People are now using all those platforms for family get-togethers and virtual happy hours with friends.
Video conferencing was introduced by AT&T at the New York World's Fair in 1964, but it wasn't until the 2010s that video calls became popular.
With a market value of nearly $58 billion, Zoom reported first-quarter revenue of $328.2 million, up 169% from 2019. It's total revenue is expected to be about $1.8 billion for the full fiscal year 2021.
"Psychologists agree that these virtual meeting places can be taxing on the brain." said Challenger. "People around the country are telling us they're experiencing this extra anxiety, this fatigue around being camera ready staring straight forward at their screen, sitting at the same spot for five or six plus hours every day."
The nonverbal cues the brain picks up during face-to-face interactions are missing, said Challenger. Equally, he said looking at oneself during these meetings can be distracting.
"This way of communicating is not going anywhere anytime soon, especially as long as the virus keeps workers and students at home and social distancing continues. Employers need to be mindful that their teams may be experiencing some burnout from the totality of the pandemic as well as the videoconferencing, and should make accommodations to take some of the strain off workers," said Challenger.
It does, however, have some benefits.
"Most people are more productive if they get dressed and groomed to take a visual meeting. People also enjoy seeing and not just hearing their colleagues. They no longer have to worry as much about their wardrobe or commuting to attend, and they can immediately return to other tasks once a meeting ends," said Challenger.
Challenger offers the following ideas to combat videoconferencing fatigue: