April 13, 2021
EMI President Debbie King announced on Monday that, with much review of the research associated with “Zoom Fatigue,” EMI is establishing a practice of Zoom-Free Fridays.
“Now don’t get me wrong,” Ms. King said, “we appreciate and love the ease of using Zoom and Zoom for Government. It’s just that the research is clear: too much use of video rather than traditional phone calls is taxing our brains in a different way, resulting in physical and mental exhaustion.”
EMI’s Solutions to Zoom Fatigue
- In an effort to continue to build team relationships and trust, EMI’s bi-weekly staff meetings and the Wednesday Hello Team meetings will utilize Zoom.
Note: EMI established Hello Team meetings at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to stay connected and care for each other. The Wednesday call has evolved into a discussion and sharing of perspectives to fun, provocative, or introspective questions (e.g., “If you were a World Wrestling Champion, what would your theme song be?”), and on Fridays we engage in a quick round of a challenging game of Skribbl.io. We’ll still use Zoom for game-time, but cameras will be off on Fridays.
- The preference for team member calls will be phone or Zoom for sharing screens with cameras off.
- Employees are encouraged to use the “Hide Self View” feature of Zoom to reduce the extra stimuli associated with watching oneself.
- For longer calls, employees are encouraged to feel free to turn off video cameras for a few minutes at a time, to allow a physical and visual break.
- Phone and Zoom options will continue to be offered for client meetings, with a preference for non-Zoom calls if they have to take place on a Friday.
“Everyone, including me, is feeling the weariness of the popularity of this great technology,” stated Ms. King. “We just have to find the right balance. Our team will experiment over the next few months to determine if moderating the amount of video conferencing makes a difference for us.” Immediate employee reaction to the decision was a resounding thumbs up!
For additional resources on Zoom Fatigue, please refer to the work of Jeremy Bailenson, the Founding Director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, along with other articles such as “Four Reasons You’re Tired of Zoom Calls – And What To Do About It,” by Paulina Firozi and Allyson Chiu.
Here’s a good question, posed by Mr. Bailenson: “We have to take a step back and realize that just because you can be in a video conference doesn’t mean that you have to. There were many decades in this world in which the phone worked just fine, didn’t it?”