What CIOs Need To Know About “Zoom Fatigue”

CIOs need to understand what people are feeling
CIOs need to understand what people are feeling
Image Credit: foam

CIOs are responsible for equipping the company with the technology that is required to make things run smoothly. When the pandemic hit, we sprang into action and made sure that everyone had what they needed in order to work remotely. Even after the pandemic had receded, we made sure that the company’s infrastructure could support all of the remote meetings that were happening. However, it turns out that all of that working remotely has started to have an effect on the company’s employees. CIOs need to make sure that they understand what everyone is experiencing so that they can take steps to minimize it.

Too Much Zoom

CIOs have to understand that people in their organization are familiar with what is being called Zoom fatigue. This is a condition that is described as the feeling of being drained and lacking energy following a day of back-to-back virtual meetings. New research is suggesting that women and newer employees may be most susceptible to the phenomenon and that allowing people to turn off their cameras during meetings could make a big difference for them. According to the study the degree of fatigue isn’t affected by the amount of time spent in virtual meetings or the number of meetings attended. However, having your camera on during meetings all day – versus having it off – does end up making people feel tired.

Researchers found that camera-related fatigue affects employees in several different ways. These included voicing their ideas and being engaged in their work. Even worse, there was even spillover to the next day the researchers found. For CIOs, the results could signal the importance of doing away with blanket camera-on requirements during their virtual meetings, which proliferated during the pandemic and continue to be widely used by CIOs today. We need to realize that having the camera off doesn’t necessarily mean an employee isn’t engaged. It is possible that they may just need a break from feeling watched to re-energize.

CIOs need to understand that for any given worker there are a lot of reasons they might not want to be on camera at a given time, even though they may be actively engaged in the meeting. As for the disproportionate effect on women and new hires, researchers have several reasons that these groups, in particular, could be more likely to be experiencing camera fatigue.

Why Some Groups Have More Zoom Fatigue

CIOs have to realize that women tend to be judged more harshly both in terms of their behavior and their appearance than men. Because of this they are likely to spend more time thinking about how they look and focusing on whether they appear attentive enough on screen. This can take up greater cognitive resources and mental energy and ultimately can be more tiring. Also, the likelihood of children interrupting a Zoom call is greater for women than men. An event like this can cause even more anxiety.

Workplace new hires don’t have the same built-up rapport with their co-workers, this means that they may be more worried about how they come across to others. As a result of this, they will have to exert extra energy putting up the appearance of being engaged and attentive in a meeting, which is draining and culminates in fatigue. The more you have to focus on trying to look like you’re engaged, the more energy you spend and the more fatigued you’re likely to be.

What All Of This Means For You

The Covid-19 pandemic caused a lot of changes to occur in the workplace. CIOs were called in to equip the company to continue to operate even as every employee was sent home to work for a year. We did an excellent job of this and one way that we solved the problem was by implementing video conferencing systems that allowed teams to stay in touch better than just voice calls. However, new studies are starting to reveal that these video conferences are starting to wear on the people who are engaging in them.

What workers are facing is being called Zoom fatigue. This is when, after a long day of back-to-back online video calls, workers are left feeling drained and lacking energy. Camera-related fatigue can affect employees in different ways. One way that CIOs can address this issue is by getting rid of camera-on requirements during their virtual meetings. Just because a worker is not on camera does not mean that they are not actively engaged in a meeting. Zoom fatigue seems to strike women and new hires harder. Women suffer because they get judged by their behavior and appearance. New hires suffer because they don’t have good contacts yet and have to work to appear to be engaged.

CIOs have provided the company with the tools that are needed to allow remote workers to stay in touch with each other. Now we need to take the next step and make sure that we understand how those tools are affecting the people who use them everyday. If the tools are causing issues, then we need to take the time to understand what those issues are and how we can help to address them. Providing people with an opportunity to participate in a video call with the video turned off sure seems like a simple way to address a common problem.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If video cameras are turned off, how can CIOs determine if people are participating in video calls?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m pretty sure that most CIOs have heard about groupthink by now. We all know that what we really want to do is to surround ourselves with people who think differently than we do. Our goal is that when issues come up, we can bring the brightest minds to the table and generate a wealth of different ideas. The hope is that one of those ideas will be the right idea and we’ll be able to recognize it and run with it. If we are engaging in group think, then what we want is not going to happen…