During the grand global experiment of remote work forced on us by the pandemic, one of the more interesting emerging phenomena is “Zoom Fatigue”. Despite its name it applies to all video meeting platforms equally – Zoom Fatigue is the sensation of mental exhaustion many workers are reporting after hours of virtual meetings spent looking at a camera and/or their coworkers’ faces. It’s an evolving issue, with more and more thought being given to what provokes it and how to combat it. I’ve felt it, you’ve felt it, we’ve all felt it. Fortunately, Puzzle Break has found a solution to video meeting fatigue – and we deliver it through a video meeting. No, really!
As strange as it sounds to cure video meeting fatigue with video meeting experiences, it’s important to understand how (fittingly) the pieces of this puzzle fit together and how Puzzle Break virtual escape experiences go to the root cause of this phenomenon.
To begin with, we must understand what causes video meeting fatigue in the first place. According to Stanford researchers there are several contributing factors, the most obvious being the cognitive burden of simply having to be on camera.
For most now-remote workers, having to constantly be aware of the presence of a camera recording our face during meetings simply was not something commonly encountered prior to the pandemic. It can feel like being the constant center of attention even when one isn’t taking up the screen, and is especially exhausting for more introverted personalities. Everyone’s looking directly at us!
Another contributing factor is the effect of staring directly at your coworkers’ faces as they talk on screen, giving the appearance of intense eye contact as they look into their cameras. Very rarely do we speak to our coworkers with their face mere inches from our own, especially for hours of our day in meetings. The study points out that having someone’s face this close to one’s own can trigger fight-or-flight instincts, which is not the mindset you want to be in for a marathon meeting with your team – imagine trying to conduct in-person meetings like this; we’re looking directly at everyone!
Puzzle Break has a very simple remedy: Participants are looking at the experience, not each other. Our guests are never the center of attention when there are clues to be found and challenges to be conquered – the focus of the group is always on the puzzles, not the people. By removing the burden of constant face-to-face contact during the experience, we enable people to enjoy an interactive challenge together without the discomfort of feeling like the center of attention. This can be an extremely restorative break from the relentless cycle of video meetings at work and video hangouts with friends after hours, and dovetails with the Stanford researchers’ advice to incorporate off-camera interaction with peers as a reprieve from video calls.
Second and perhaps less obviously, the act of tackling puzzles as a team gives the usual interpersonally-oriented parts of the brain a much-needed respite. This isn’t to say that a Puzzle Break virtual escape room is a mental vacation – you will definitely have to flex your mental muscles, just different ones than you normally use to navigate video meetings. It’s all the communication with none of the self-consciousness, giving one part of your brain a critical rest so you can work another as a team. Think of it as leg day for your brain, and as everybody knows: never skip leg day.
These are just two of the contributing factors of video meeting fatigue, and there’s a lot more to unpack in regards to this issue. In a second blog post, we’ll examine some of the other contributing factors to Zoom Fatigue, and ways that Puzzle Break virtual escape experiences overcomes them for you and your team.