Zoom Fatigue: Symptoms, Causes & How To Avoid It

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It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that the term “Zoom fatigue” began to become popular. At that time, face-to-face interactions were very limited, so video calls became an important form of interaction.

Many of us had to adapt our work to be remote and videoconferencing was part of everyday life, as a communication alternative. Areas such as education, business, and healthcare needed to adapt quickly to use the available platforms. However, the fatigue caused by their use soon followed.


  • Zoom fatigue was heard of as early as 2004, but in recent years there have been major studies on the subject. This is due to a significant increase in its frequency.
  • Nowadays, it is very difficult to imagine many of our work and family activities without the use of a video call. Every day we use them on several occasions.
  • For this reason, it is so important to know what Zoom fatigue is. Because then we can combat and avoid it, and thus have a healthier work environment.

What you should know about Zoom fatigue

Video conferencing will continue to be part of our lives, as it has become integrated into our lifestyles. Therefore, the idea is not to eradicate video calls or virtual meetings. The goal is to find a point of balance, so that we can make use of this tool while taking care of our health.

What is Zoom fatigue?

Communication through a computer or phone screen is very different from face-to-face communication. These differences bring with them some consequences that have been described as a clinical condition called Zoom fatigue.

Also called videoconference fatigue, this is a state of mental and physical tiredness caused by constant interaction through video calls. Although its name refers to one of the most used applications for this type of communication (Zoom), it can really happen with any type of virtual meeting.

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It must be differentiated from work fatigue, which has its origin in work demands. Meanwhile, Zoom fatigue originates in the characteristics of videoconference communication. It often appears at the end of these interactions (1).

Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID crisis, many were forced to migrate to the digital world. Thus, since the beginning of the pandemic, video calls have increased exponentially.

Eric S. Yuan – CEO of Zoom: “To put this growth in context, at the end of December last year, the peak number of daily meeting participants, both free and paid, on Zoom was approximately 10 million. In March of this year, we reached over 200 million daily meeting participants, both free and paid.”

A study conducted by Stanford University determined that Zoom fatigue increased with increasing number and length of meetings, as well as decreasing time between meetings (2).

Who can develop Zoom fatigue?

Anyone who has constant video call interactions per day can develop the symptoms of Zoom fatigue. However, Stanford researchers confirm that women are the group most negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic, including the fatigue to which they are most prone (1).

Analysis of the results also showed that:

  • Extroverts and older people experience less fatigue than introverts and younger people.
  • Social interactions generate less fatigue than work interactions.

What are the symptoms of Zoom fatigue?

Zoom fatigue has a series of physical and psychological symptoms that can be limiting for the sufferer. As a result, it also affects your productivity, creativity and work development.

Zoom fatigue can affect you physically and psychologically (Source: Luz Marina Figuera/ Gitnux)

What are the causes of Zoom fatigue?

Generally speaking, Zoom fatigue is caused by participating in video calls. However, the specific characteristics of these virtual encounters explain well why we feel so tired after them (3):

Excessive eye contact

In real life, we usually avoid direct eye contact. For that reason, we look down in a crowded elevator. In a face-to-face meeting, we take notes, look at the clock or glance at the person speaking at times.

In a virtual meeting, however, it is more difficult to avoid that contact. On the contrary, it seems that all participants are looking directly at you, even when you are not speaking, and that creates a lot of stress.

On the other hand, in a virtual meeting, the faces of the participants appear in the foreground on the screen. This “proximity” of the people participating makes personal space feel cramped.

Check out the latest Virtual Meeting Statistics

Ability to see yourself during the video call

A video conference works like a mirror, since in addition to seeing the other participants, you can also see yourself. People constantly evaluate themselves when they are in front of a mirror. That is why when we are in a virtual meeting we tend to look at our own image. We see and evaluate our own gestures, and all this can be stressful.

Decreased mobility

A lot of research has confirmed that mobility is associated with better performance. Now, on a video call you need to be in front of the camera, which limits your mobility, forcing you to stand still during the meeting.

Even if you are the speaker in the meeting, you don’t have much chance to move around. Very different from a face-to-face meeting, where you could walk around, point to the chart on the wall or move your hands. All this makes virtual meetings more tiring.

Increased mental effort

In a face-to-face conversation, a large percentage of communication is nonverbal. We use gestures and movements to send information to our interlocutors. These nonverbal signals enrich communication and often make it easier to understand the message.

On the other hand, in a virtual interaction, due to the reduced space that appears in the camera shot, this non-verbal communication is often relegated. For this reason, we need to make a greater effort to understand the whole message, which also causes more mental fatigue.

How to tell the difference between work fatigue and Zoom fatigue?

Often we don’t know how to differentiate whether the symptoms we are experiencing are work fatigue or Zoom fatigue itself. Below, you can see the main differences between the two of them(7):

Work FatigueZoom fatigue
What are the symptoms?Exhaustion, lethargy, muscle pain, trouble concentrating, dizziness, low mood, and blurred vision, among others.Headache, lack of energy, exhaustion, muscle tension, anxiety, irritability, lack of attention.
What causes it?Job uncertainty, dysfunctional processes, too much activity, little support, lack of work-life balance, constant demands, and lack of fixed schedules.Continuous eye contact, seeing oneself on the screen constantly, poor mobility, and increased effort to understand, among others.
When does it appear?At the end of the working dayAfter a videoconference.

How to avoid Zoom fatigue in your company?

The symptoms of Zoom fatigue can cause you or your employees and collaborators to shy away from participating in virtual meetings. In addition, it can also affect their productivity at work. Here are some recommendations to make video calls more effective and less stressful.

Reduce the number, frequency, and duration of meetings

During the COVID-19 pandemic, video calls became paramount to continue working no matter what. However, we must acknowledge that more meetings were held than necessary.

In order to have better virtual meetings, the first thing to consider is to reduce the number, frequency, and duration of them. It is essential to establish priorities and evaluate the need for them.

Find other alternatives for communication

Emails, telephone or different messaging applications are some of the options available. There are different online channels that can facilitate communication in your company, without the need to make a video call. Be creative and find the ways that best suit your business and your employees.

Prepare meeting objectives and topics in advance

For a better development of your meetings, it is necessary to make an agenda for them. This way you can make sure to:

  • Make better use of time: With a proper agenda, you can avoid dealing with irrelevant and/or repetitive topics. On the other hand, an agenda also guarantees that the meeting will start and end at the scheduled time.
  • Benefit from everyone’s participation: An agenda allows attendees to be prepared in advance about the topics that will be discussed.

Stephen Covey: “The habit of “starting with an end in mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is always first a mental creation, and then a physical creation.”

Read more about How To Create An Agenda For Your Meeting

Deal only with agenda items

In addition to reducing the number of meetings, the preparation of an agenda allows you to follow the issues raised until they are completely dealt with. If any unforeseen issues arise, they should be noted and included in the agendas of future meetings, if necessary.

Appoint a facilitator to manage the order in which participants speak

When many people are participating in a meeting, it can be a challenge to maintain orderly input and encourage team cooperation in problem-solving. Depending on the nature of the meeting, the leader may exercise facilitation or may designate someone else to do so.

The role of a facilitator in virtual meetings is very important for their effectiveness. (Source: Luz Marina Figuera/ Gitnux)

Send a summary after the meeting

A summary of the meeting is an essential document for following up on the decisions made during the meeting. In this summary, you write down the topics discussed, as well as what was proposed, decided, as well as the tasks assigned.

How can you prevent Zoom fatigue?

As in many other cases, prevention is a fundamental element. Here are some recommendations you can follow to prevent Zoom fatigue from knocking on your door.

Avoid performing other tasks simultaneously

When participating in a virtual meeting, you may experience many distractions that make it difficult for you to concentrate. Some are environmental (such as noises, other people, etc.) and others are related to the digital environment. You may be tempted to check Slack, and read emails, among other pending issues while on a video call.

You may think this is a good way to increase productivity and make the most of your time. However, studies have shown that the more levels of multitasking you manage, you will experience a substantial decrease in accuracy. That is, when you multitask you are more prone to making mistakes (4).

The next time you are on a video call you can close all other application windows and keep your phone out of reach.

When possible, keep your own video image disabled, hidden or minimized

Earlier, we talked about how seeing your own image on a screen can be counterproductive. For that reason, whenever possible, it is important to turn your image off or keep it hidden. This small step will help you avoid the distraction of seeing yourself all the time and keep Zoom fatigue out of your life.

Reduce on-screen stimuli by using a personal wallpaper that is flat or plain

Much of the fatigue caused by video conferencing is related to numerous stimuli: device screen light, colors, many faces in the foreground, multiple voices, etc. Studies show that virtual meetings with more participants are more tiring because they have more stimuli (5).

To avoid what may distract us from the video call, we should locate our workplace in a space where there is no noise. In addition, the recommendation is that the background of our video (what is behind us) should be simple. If this is not possible, you can use the background blur effects that many applications have available.

If all meeting attendees keep the background simple, they will help their colleagues combat and avoid Zoom fatigue.

Take short visual breaks

One of the most common symptoms of Zoom Fatigue is eyestrain. We have known for some time that the use of screens such as laptops or cell phones causes Computer Vision Syndrome. This is a conjunction of vision problems related to the use of computers and other electronic screens (6).

The size of the letters on the devices, the blue light and the lack of blinking can cause a significant deterioration in vision and considerable visual fatigue.

To avoid these problems, the recommendation is to have short breaks throughout the workday. The idea is that during these breaks you should not use any screen devices. In addition, it is suggested to have good lighting in the workplace.

Use an external keyboard to increase the interpersonal distance and the space between oneself and the screen.

The image in the foreground creates a sense of invasion of personal space. It is the equivalent of a person standing a few centimeters away in a face-to-face meeting. It is very uncomfortable and unnatural.

Using an external keyboard increases the distance between you and the screen, thus preserving that interpersonal distance and making you feel more comfortable in the interaction.

Check out more tips on How To Avoid Zoom Burnout


Video calls are a form of remote communication that has advantages, such as allowing work from home and flexible schedules. However, as we have seen above, if not used conscientiously, it can have some consequences.

However, since videoconferencing is here to stay, the best thing to do is to pay attention to the recommendations given. Prevention is the best cure also in this case.


1. Bennett, A. A., Campion, E. D., Keeler, K. R., & Keener, S. K. Videoconference fatigue? Exploring changes in fatigue after videoconference meetings during COVID-19. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(3), 330-344 (2021) [2022]

2. G. Fauville, M. Luo, A.C.M. Queiroz, J.N. Bailenson, J. Hancock. Nonverbal mechanisms predict zoom fatigue and explain why women experience higher levels than men [Internet]. SSRN 3820035; 2021 [2022].

3. G. Fauville, M. Luo, A.C.M. Queiroz, J.N. Bailenson, J. Hancock, Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale, Computers in Human Behavior Reports, Volume 4, (2021) [2022] [2022]

4. Juggling on a high wire: Multitasking effects on performance, Juggling on a high wire: Multitasking effects on performance, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Volume 70, Issue 2, (2012) [2022]

5. Hadar NS, Wehrt W. Understanding “Zoom fatigue”: A mixed-method approach [Internet]. Applied Psychology, v. 71, n. 3, p. 827-852.; 2021 [c2022].

6. Rosenfield M. Computer vision syndrome (a.k.a. digital eye strain). Optometry in Practice, Volume 17 Issue 1 1 – 10; 2016. [2022]

7. Mendoza Villaveces JA, López Cortes LF, Duque Moreno LV, Rodríguez Romero DC. Factors related to occupational fatigue: causes, consequences, and control measures, documented in the literature between 2006 AND 2016 [Internet]. 2016 [2022].



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