How-not-to Guide: Zoom Fatigue

image of author Sara Natividade

Sara Natividade


3 min read


Do you feel emotionally and physically drained after a few video calls? You’ve been staring at people in dark boxes on your screen all day, and nothing ever changes? Do you feel that pulsing feeling in your head, and your eyes feel glazed? You’re probably suffering from what’s now commonly known as “Zoom fatigue.”

The good news is that you don’t have to live like this. We’re offering you some tips on how to combat Zoom fatigue and approach video calls with a smile.

Am I suffering from Zoom fatigue?

Probably! Chances are that if you stumble upon this, you’re not feeling quite well 😫. Zoom fatigue was named after - surprise, surprise - Zoom, and it refers to the exhaustion that people feel after participating in multiple traditional video calls. For those who have always worked remotely, this phenomenon isn’t new. But for those whose lives went virtual after COVID-19, Zoom fatigue hit hard. Though it may not be an official medical term, it is very real.

But wait, it doesn’t only happen on Zoom!

It may be called “Zoom fatigue” but it can take place on any traditional video conferencing platform: Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Whereby, BlueJeans, Webex, you name it. That’s because it’s associated with back-to-back, stiff, productivity-driven work meetings. And it spills over into more social video calls as well when those “social” calls are hosted in the same environment as the work calls.

That’s why we committed from the very outset of Toucan to create a place that’s built specifically for fluid networking - to be the antithesis of those boxy video platforms. And using principles of social psychology, we’ve incorporated features that make our users feel good. That’s our mission. 🎯

What’s up with video calls that make us feel this way?

It is a combination of four factors according to researchers at Stanford University:

Too much eye contact

In in-person interactions, you aren’t constantly making eye contact with others. You’re free to look around the room, take notes, etc. On video calls, we’re always looking at the screen and making eye contact with others. Moreover, the size of our faces on the screen makes our brains interpret these situations as intense, due to their “closeness,” which makes us feel like we’re constantly being watched. 👀

Reduced mobility

Keeping your camera on requires people to stay still for unnaturally long periods. By restricting ourselves to that stiff rectangle we are limiting our capacity to think and speak freely. That’s why on Toucan we don’t go for the standard square and rectangle frames - our round bubbles make everything feel less stiff and show that we’re not taking ourselves too seriously. And the way that you’re able to move from group to group makes you feel freer. And freedom boosts creativity!

All-day mirror

Constantly being on calls looking at yourself is the equivalent of walking around all day with a mirror in real life. It’s not natural. That’s why we built the “hide self-view'' feature. You can elect to not see yourself on Toucan calls, while others still see you just the same. This makes some people feel less self-conscious and more open to just enjoying everyone else’s company.🪞

Cognitive Load

Cognitive Load refers to the amount of thought we need to put into a task - even the most mundane ones 🧠. On traditional video calls, we cannot rely on nonverbal cues, and those are super important in social interactions. So this forces us to exaggerate our reactions and work much harder to understand others. In contrast, we want our users to be able to express emotions and utilize more real-life “signs,” like raising your hand to talk, clapping, even sending some virtual love.

Goodbye Zoom Fatigue 👋 - extra tips from our team

We have a handful of tips to share with you. Most importantly, you need to find the right video environment to suit your needs. You might not want to shift away from the platform you’ve been using forever at first, but it’s so important for us as humans to try new things and get a little change of scenery. There are plenty of options in the market - it doesn’t even have to be Toucan if you find another technology that works better for your meeting type. Think about it; we promise you’ll notice some serious health benefits.

Our tips:

No more multitasking 🤹- It requires extra mental energy and it may reduce the quality of your work. Put your phone away and close some of those 1000000 tabs (don’t worry - we’re all guilty of that!).

It’s break o'clock ⏰- Take a moment, relax, get up, go get some tea, cuddle your pet, make a snack…

Schedule those breaks! ⏳- You probably rolled your eyes when we told you that you needed to take more breaks (and might be doing it again🙄). But if the struggle to find time for yourself is real, schedule breaks in your calendar. This can be for your team to see or even just for yourself, you pick.

Change up the environment ⚡-  If you are used to taking video calls in your bedroom, try switching to the living room; sit in the kitchen; go to a café; meet friends at their houses. Or if those aren’t accessible for you, create different “at work” playlists and redecorate your desk. There’s so much we can do!

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About author

image of author Sara Natividade

Sara Natividade

Sara knows some things about marketing, has 3 cats, loves to go for hikes and organize things by color!

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