Raise your hands if you’ve romanticised the idea of working from home before it was made mandatory. For many of us, the imagined gratification of being able to manage your own schedule more efficiently and, perhaps, carve out more time to pursue your own interests, have quickly given way to the exhaustion that comes with a never-ending barrage of virtual meetings. Video conferencing has become the default for just about every interaction that would normally have been conducted face to face. While technology has enabled us to stay connected, it has also given rise to a new phenomenon dubbed Zoom fatigue, in reference to the popular video conferencing app.
Virtual meetings have emerged as a source of anxiety for those working from home. It is tiring, and unnerving, to stare at a grid of faces on a screen, straining to figure out who’s saying what as the video lags. You become hyperaware of yourself: your facial expression, ungroomed brows or that zit on your chin just adds to the stress. Then, there’s having to deal with erratic Internet connections while trying to process non-verbal cues like body language, all of which takes up a lot of energy. Dr Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, explains, “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally.”
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