Zoom Burnout Is Real, and It’s Worse for Women

As companies consider post-pandemic work culture, the solutions to Zoom fatigue aren’t going to be as simple as switching off self-view (which the researchers recommend you do anyway) or abandoning video calls altogether, said Mollie West Duffy, co-author of “No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work,” who has been consulting with companies about plans to return to the office.

“I don’t think anyone has a playbook for how to do this perfectly, so we’re going to all try to do our best and then we’re going to have to be willing to have conversations two months in about how to adapt,” Ms. Duffy said.

For now, she said, leaders and managers should formalize the unspoken rules that have developed over the past year. “Some groups that we’ve been talking to have said, ‘Let’s all turn our videos on for the first five minutes of a call, connect as humans, and then turn it off,’” Ms. Duffy said. “Or telling your team which meetings should have video on and which meetings can have video off.”

“The default has just become video on, and it doesn’t need to be that eight hours a day.”

Certain meetings, like all-company town halls, may end up being video meetings by default because it is worse to have a few people calling in while everyone else is together in a conference room. “You don’t want people feeling left out and feeling like they can’t be heard,” she said.

In May last year, after listening to employees, Arvind Krishna, chief executive of IBM, posted a Work From Home Pledge on his LinkedIn profile. He noted, several times, that switching off video was “100% ok,” and also pledged to keep video calls shorter than the normal duration of 30 or 60 minutes, making them 20 minutes or 45 minutes instead.

“Video fatigue is real,” he said.

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