Video fatigue is defined as being present on a video call or video meeting in terms of showing up on the attendee list, yet in terms of idea-sharing and participation, the participant is very much absent.
The absence might be daydreaming into the distance, continuing to work in the background with their mic muted and camera off, or constantly having their attention drawn away by other things popping up on their screen like emails and social media notifications. Distracted multitasking is also rife amongst those who work from home as they tend to children, deal with pets, load the washing machine, having a chin-wag with the postman, etc – all while a virtual collaboration session is going on in the background on their laptop on the kitchen table.
There are a number of reasons why video fatigue and distracted multitasking can set in, including:
- People preferring to work in more analogue, in-person environments (rather than virtual/digital)
- A lack of eye contact, leading to disconnectedness and not feeling truly listened to
- Presence disparity due to physical and communicative distance (e.g. when other call attendees have their microphones muted and cameras turned off so it doesn’t really feel like they’re there)
- Technical difficulties such as video latency, audio lagging, and poor internet connection
- The environment an attendee is in – and joining the meeting from – just isn’t conducive to cognitive focus or productivity (e.g. from their bedroom at home)
- Anxiety and hyper-awareness that they’re being ‘looked at’ through the screen – something which is less prevalent in-person as meeting attendees tend to look around the room instead or avert their gaze in some way
- In-person meeting attendees talking to and interacting with other people within the physical space, subconsciously neglecting those tuning in via screen
At the beginning of the pandemic, when businesses and workforces were forced to pivot rapidly, video conferencing technology was a lifesaver. It enabled teams to continue collaborating, communicating and connecting, despite working remotely and becoming very suddenly geographically dispersed. Moving forward, post-pandemic and beyond, video meetings will continue to have significant benefits for the evolving workplace, expanding talent pools and fostering more flexible ways of working and more fluid company cultures. Again, though, this is a double-edged sword: with those benefits comes the increased risk of things like video call fatigue and dips in focus and concentration due to digital distractions and multitasking.
Here are some suggestions from our experts on how you can tailor your workspace and company culture to limit distraction and fatigue, and bring the buzz back to your video-based sessions.
MIX DIGITAL AND ANALOGUE COLLABORATION.
Humans all learn, create and absorb information in different ways; some people enjoy digital work, whilst others prefer more hands-on, in-person, screen-free sessions. Video meetings obviously don’t cater for the latter so it’s important when cultivating an inclusive workplace, to facilitate all personality types. Those who do prefer analogue work will rapidly fade into the background if video sessions are the main priority. Make sure your workspace includes well-designed breakout and collaboration spaces so that people who work best sans screen can flourish too.
CONSIDER CREATING A ‘ZOOM ROOM’.
Video calls are here to stay, we all know that. With more remote job roles than ever before, working from home becoming more commonplace, and teams being geographically dispersed, video conferencing tech is an invaluable workplace tool. To make it work to the advantage of your business and its workforce, consider creating a dedicated space purpose-built for taking video-based calls and meetings. We fondly refer to these as ‘Zoom rooms’ and they’re an effective way to keep concentration intact, as well as limiting disturbance to those around.