The Introvert’s Guide To…Zoom Fatigue

In the last 15 months, we’ve all found ourselves on more video meetings than ever before, and for a lot of introverts, these are more difficult to deal with than in-person meetings. In this episode, Jess and Phil talk about why these are more taxing, and what tips and tricks you can use to get through them.


Links in this episode:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/zoom-fatigue-may-be-with-us-for-years-heres-how-well-cope
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/coronavirus-zoom-fatigue-is-taxing-the-brain-here-is-why-that-happens

TRANSCRIPT

Phil Rickaby  00:02

I’m Phil Rickaby, and I am a writer and performer and I am also an introvert.

Jess McAuley  00:08

I’m Jess McAuley and I am a theatre maker and I am also an introvert and this is the introverts guide to

Phil Rickaby  00:27

On the introverts guide to we talk about the introvert life and how to live it to the fullest,

Jess McAuley  00:33

we’ll choose a topic and discuss it as well as try to find other helpful hints on social media and on the Internet at large.

Phil Rickaby  00:41

If you want to drop us a line, we would love to hear from you. You can find us on Twitter and Instagram at introvert guide to the number two, and you can find the website at introverts guide to calm. If you want to send us a message. You can do that through the website or you can email us at introverts guide to stuff@gmail.com. And remember, we may use your questions or comments on an upcoming episode of The introverts guide to

Jess McAuley  01:07

and if you like the podcast and you listen on Apple podcasts, please consider leaving a comment and a five star rating. Your comments and ratings help new people find the show. But even better, whether you listen on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you know someone that might like the introverts guide to you tell them about it. Some of our favourite podcasts become some of our favourite podcasts became our favourites because someone we know told us about them.

Phil Rickaby  01:42

So we’re recording this on a holiday Monday for us in Ontario here in Canada. And I don’t know about you, but what I am not missing is the four to five hours of video meetings that I usually have. On Mondays.

Jess McAuley  02:00

I have a nice tasty 9am meeting that I am not looking forward to. And I am going to see the whole gallery of faces The Brady Bunch style just staring back at me. Yeah, way too perky. And I’m just not here for it.

Phil Rickaby  02:17

Why are they so perky?

Jess McAuley  02:19

I don’t know, something tells me that they have like these little things that keep their eyes open. And little smiles going. It’s like it’s just like a clockwork orange sort of situation.

Phil Rickaby  02:29

I think the advantage that we all have in video meetings is that if you can plaster a glossy smile on your face, nobody really knows that you’re you’re really thinking is just kill me. And you’re waiting for that opportunity to be able to turn your camera off.

Jess McAuley  02:44

Oh, absolutely. And I don’t I don’t even really bother getting dressed anymore in the morning. Like I obviously keep the top half there. But the bottom half. It’s my tasty little secret,

Phil Rickaby  02:55

I always make sure that I have put on pants. Because there’s going to be a time when you have to make sure that like you’re not just like your like business on the top underwear on the bottom that you get up for a second and you forget that one you cameras on. And two, you’re not wearing pants.

Jess McAuley  03:14

At the beginning of this thing, did you ever dress up your background to make it look more professional than it actually was?

Phil Rickaby  03:22

No, if I needed to I would throw up a like a virtual background. Mostly what I would do is just use the blur function. So that it was like nonspecific on my background, but I never really cared all that much. Some people look up for this meeting, I will select the library effect or whatever. And I’m just like, sure you could do that. But you know why?

Jess McAuley  03:46

That’s Yeah, that’s fine. I mean, like, you know, we know we’re not in a library. We don’t have to pretend folks. I mean, it’s great. I like looking at nice backgrounds. But again, we don’t need to make this a decision. Yeah. Nothing major Sit down.

Phil Rickaby  04:00

Yeah, no. The issue is, so prior to the beginning of the pandemic, almost a month and a half ago, a year, month and a half, you know, 1415 months ago, a year and a half almost. I don’t think I went to more than two meetings, two video meetings in a week, maybe three, in a very busy week. Most of our meetings happened in person, so I didn’t have to worry about that. And then all of a sudden, it became just a steady stream of almost constant video meetings.

Jess McAuley  04:38

And see I had never been experienced, like, I’ve never experienced this sort of work situation before. I mean, I my job, the job I had had before I had gotten promoted. I mean it was more of a people situation. It was a sales department right so it was more face to face time and jumping into this new position where it is an office I now work arts administration, I have meetings I have people to see people to that I actually have to report to is such a new thing for me that I feel it’s an interesting introduction to an office life Three, two, because I have no idea how I’m going to come into this office now, face to face with people when it is time to go back. I’m kind of worried that some days I am going to walk like, I’m just going to walk in this office with pyjama pants one day and just go, Oh, this isn’t okay. This, this isn’t

Phil Rickaby  05:32

You’re just gonna have to – just put up I have to put up a sign by the door. So that you see when you’re leaving, that just says, Are you wearing pants? And you have to look at that every day. Touch it. Go. Yes, I am. Or Oh, thank you. No, I’m not I did not put on anything other than pyjama pants.

Jess McAuley  05:50

The physical touch part about touching a sign is actually a good point. I was saying I was about I was about to make a snarky sarcastic comment about it. But I was like, No, no, that’s a good point. It’s muscle memory.

Phil Rickaby  06:01

Absolutely, absolutely. The thing about these these for want of a better term, we’re going to call it Zoom meetings. No matter if you have it in Google Meet or any other platform is the fact that they actually take more concentration than an in person meeting. I find them more exhausting than an in person meeting ever has been before.

Jess McAuley  06:28

I am starting to experience this thing. Now. I don’t know if it’s because I need glasses. But I know that when I’m in a video meeting for too long, my feel my vision disassociating from what’s happening, and I feel I have to force myself to focus more because of it. It’s it’s a lot to ask if somebody is attention to stay in a zoom meeting for a long time is I realised that that’s I, I took that for granted. When I first started I was like, Oh, this isn’t gonna be so bad. I’m just lounging around. But no, it’s it’s mentally draining.

Phil Rickaby  07:00

It is mentally draining. And I’ve been thinking a lot about why it might be mentally draining. And I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we’re working harder to appear present. We’re working harder to see, you know, to have our face active to pay attention to what’s going on. Because there’s so many potential things that are going on. We’re working harder to do that. And that is really draining.

Jess McAuley  07:33

It’s a you’re it’s your mind is definitely doing double time now. It is it is absolutely working overtime, we are so used to those physical cues in person. And we’re in we’re those the way that we socialise as humans is we need that physical connection right there in front of us. It’s, it’s totally different when you have to try and make sure that you look as though you are paying attention because you are Yeah, but it’s different on screen. And I mean, also, I’m someone that does get self conscious when I’m speaking for a long time on screen. I wonder is someone looking at Facebook? Is someone actually paying attention to me?

Phil Rickaby  08:13

Yeah, I think you can think you can’t even worry about that. I think for me, the biggest worry that I have. And the biggest thing that takes my attention is the fact that I can see my face

Jess McAuley  08:27

Do you stare at yourself?

Phil Rickaby  08:28

I try not to but I’m always like, What am what am I doing in my face right now? And I’ll look over like oh bitch face, and I’ll be like, oh, soften your face. Think about how you’re looking like I know you’re concentrating but don’t make it look like you’re angry. Do something with your face that’s not an angry face.

Jess McAuley  08:43

Oh, boy, you know something? We’re gonna do something a little bit different. I usually we save to the internet for the very last but you brought up a good point that I just want to touch on something.

Phil Rickaby  08:55

Okay, sure.

Jess McAuley  08:56

Okay, so if you know me, I am a National Geographic gal. I just I love it. I have a good subs. I used to have a subscription. I miss it. Okay, okay, so there were a couple of articles that came out. And the one I’m just going to bring us over to is there’s an interesting article that talks about zoom fatigue, and it is taxing the brain. And here’s why that happens. So incredible article. We of course link these in our descriptions. But this one, I’m just going to read a little bit and you let me know what you think. Humans communicate even when they’re quiet. Right? So during in person conversation, the brain focuses partly on the words being spoken, but it also derives an additional meaning from dozens of nonverbal cues, such as whether someone is facing you or slightly turned away if they’re fidgeting while you talk or if they inhale quickly in preparation to interrupt. However, a typical video call impairs these ingrained abilities and require sustained and Intense attention to words. Instead, if a person is framed only from the shoulders up, the possibility of viewing hand gestures or other body language is eliminated. If the video quality is poor and hope of gleaning something from minute facial expressions is dashed. For somebody who’s really dependent on nonverbal cues, it can be a big drain to not have them. Prolonged eye contact has become the strongest facial cue readily available, and it can feel threatening or overly intimate if it’s held too long. And multi person screens magnify this exhausting problem, gallery view were all meeting participants appear Brady Bunch style challenges the brain’s central vision, forcing it to decode so many people at once that no one comes through meaningfully not even the speaker. So for me, having this partial attention, I have auditory processing disorder. What that means, essentially, is that I can hear you, but my mind has a tendency to not process entirely what’s being said, and so my mind will start to go other places. And I’m not taking in the proper information. Now that I have to focus on who’s on screen, what’s being said, looking at myself, trying to take in the facial cues, making sure my anxiety doesn’t run rampant. By asking, could you please repeat that? It’s exhausting. And I didn’t know that this was something that was I know that humans are social creatures, but to see how it robs us of social interaction, yeah, it’s incredible.

Phil Rickaby  11:38

I mean, it all makes sense. Because, you know, we do require the all of these, these social cues, when we’re in person, whenever I’m giving a presentation, I tried to do it standing up that way. And I’ll back up a little bit like I am now and people can see a little bit more of me. I’m a gesture anyway. Yay, theatre training. So I like I like, Well, sometimes, if they can’t see me, I’ll gesture more. Put try to put something into my voice to make it sound animated. But it’s so it takes a lot of work to present. But also there’s the issue of lag, there can be like, the lag can be such that like, I could be starting to say something somebody else hasn’t heard that I’ve started this. So they jump in. And now we both are doing that. Oh, no, you got no you go. No, you go, there you go. And it’s worth it’s just because the the video is lagging, you might miss somebody like that inhale that somebody is going to talk because it’s happening in a live fashion. And so things start to make so much less sense. It can become so confusing, just just to try to watch it.

Jess McAuley  12:43

I had a really embarrassing moment during training. So I started this new position. And training for me was five days a week on zoom for eight hours. just awful. My internet, though, was working up. And so my boss is trying to tell me and this other new employee about all you know, just policies, procedures. And I guess my lag started to go in and I thought my boss had a period. And I was asking a question. And and I was just trying to be clear on what what was being said and repeating it back. And meanwhile, what it actually happened is my side was lagging their side was fine. And I was talking over the boss the entire time not even listening, couldn’t even hear anything. And it’s just sitting there laughing. I can’t see anything. Yeah. And there was nothing like it before. But boy, did I just want to send a strongly worded letter to Cogeco.

Phil Rickaby  13:40

Oh, I’m sure I’m sure. Yeah, just like so many times that happens. And then we have this situation where we are. You know, we’re spending so much time in these video meetings while we’re working. And then it’s the only way that we can sort of socialise with friends. Hopefully in the very near future, we’re going to be seeing some of that start to change shortly, at least here in Canada. I know in some places that’s already happening, but here in Ontario, we’ve been in lockdown since December. And we’re really getting ready and hoping that that’ll end soon. But all of our socialising for the last year and a half has been over zoom or similar video applications and that is just it’s a terrible way to try to socialise.

Jess McAuley  14:31

New insecurities are unlocked because of this new social interaction. I mean, again, the the staring at oneself. I’m going to come back into that later with another article because that was interesting but it is it’s just so incredibly awful to sit there and experience a leg experience your vision starting to blur and and not even enjoying the moment anymore. I miss being sucked into a good conversation in person. I didn’t realise how much as an introvert and I was craving that.

Phil Rickaby  15:06

Yeah,

Jess McAuley  15:06

I’m craving it now!

Phil Rickaby  15:08

Part of part of, for me, the part of the serious problem of the whole, like trying to have a social group meet over an application like zoom, or anything else, is that every conversation must be presented to everyone. Right? You’re not having a conversation one on one, somebody else can’t like slide into the conversation. It’s a conversation that everybody is overhearing. And so it becomes a conversation for everyone. And there’s usually one person who’s like, So Tom, I hear that you have some news, you want to share that? Sarah, I hear that you had something happen to you? Did you were like, well, how were things with you? It’s just like, one person trying to drive everybody to keep talking. And it’s just so nobody wants to because it’s not a doesn’t feel like a real conversation?

Jess McAuley  15:59

No, I know it is. It does come down to one person to have the responsibility of doing that. And then it almost feels as though that person has to keep talking it to a point where are they dominated the conversation? Are we able to keep something organic going here? I mean, you have a you have a method of hanging out with your friends, don’t you? Is it a it’s an online board game?

Phil Rickaby  16:24

A friend of mine, Adriana introduced me to this, it’s called backyard.co. backyard.co. And you could get together with your friends, and play board games. And instead of just being a zoom meeting, where everybody is just hanging out, you at least have the excuse of getting together to play a game in the application. It has essentially games. Like I think there’s a Kinect for there’s like a Pictionary type game. There’s the game code names, or something like along those lines, I think Cards Against Humanity is in there, there’s some other games, and it’s just like to be able to hang out in that way, without the pressure of somebody having to drive the conversation, and to just play a game. And if conversation happens, it happens. But it’s a great way to just sort of like, you know, be hanging out and, and, and just let stuff happen. So we’re not thinking about it, it’s a great, a great opportunity, a great way to do that. That’s not everybody in the Brady Bunch grid, trying to figure out what they’re going to say that they want everybody to hear.

Jess McAuley  17:29

One other thing that my friends tried one time is we all decided that we’d missed each other. But we weren’t interested in just getting together on zoom and talking that we decided that we wanted to colour. So we all cracked out our art supplies. We all sat down cross legged on the floor, grab some tea. And we made sure to reinforce that nobody has to talk. Just knowing that the others are there. You can talk if you want, you can show off your cute little craft at some point. That was enough. And I think eliminating that pressure of having just conversation was more than enough of a help. Yeah, because I think a lot of the times because we get cornered into these things that’s needing to go back here for a second before this pandemic. Things like zoom things like FaceTime, they really were reserved for friends that we never saw. They were reserved for anyone long distance or someone we needed to talk to at late at night or something. Now, I think this is definitely a new realm for us where we’re now having to redefine what exactly we can do. What can we do to keep this interesting to still stay connected and still see, see our friends for the people that we love so much not an annoyance that we have to get to.

Phil Rickaby  18:49

Absolutely. You know, another thing that my friends and I have done we did a little bit more at the beginning of the pandemic and we do it occasionally now is, is getting together for a group game of Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch and sort of like play online. And we just race around shit talk to each other and just generally have some conversations. We’re not seeing each other, but we use a chat function or sometimes connected via Facebook audio or something and just just shoot the shit while we’re playing the game.

Jess McAuley  19:19

You absolutely have to find ways to trash talk to your friends. It’s absolutely vital, especially when

Phil Rickaby  19:25

you’re playing Mario Kart. They’re not really your friends if you haven’t trash card, the trash talk them during Mario Kart.

Jess McAuley  19:31

Mario?

Phil Rickaby  19:32

Mario Kart.

Jess McAuley  19:34

You said Mario

Phil Rickaby  19:35

Yeah, Mario Kart,

Jess McAuley  19:37

Mario,

Phil Rickaby  19:38

Mario, Mario, who cares? You say Mario, I say Mario

Jess McAuley  19:42

I’m leaving this

Phil Rickaby  19:42

What?

Jess McAuley  19:43

I’m I’m leaving. Jess just has left the conversation. Fine.

Phil Rickaby  19:49

I’ll say it. However I want to say it in the moment I’ll go back and forth between Mario and Mario.

Jess McAuley  19:54

That’s fine, but I swear the second you say baggle or malk it’s over.

Phil Rickaby  20:00

None of those things is happening. Neither of those things is happening.

Jess McAuley  20:05

Okay, okay, well hold you to it hold you to it.

Phil Rickaby  20:10

Trying to get into a video call is not a great way to socialise, we have to find other ways to do it. Whether you’re using I don’t know what it’s called, but there’s like a way to do like Netflix with friends. And you can like watch something but you chat, like, like text text chat while you’re watching something. Or I think some of the other features have introduced some kind of like watch with friends. I’ve never even tried them. But just ways that you can do that, that allow you to connect with people while doing something else because the video chat option or the video meeting is a terrible way to socialise. I think we have to accept that.

Jess McAuley  20:49

So after you’ve had like a long day with meetings, you’re done your work day, what do you do to help yourself recover?

Phil Rickaby  20:57

Well, depending on the day of the week, or what video games are out, I will either play some video games currently right now. The Mass Effect legendary edition has just come out. So I’m replaying the Mass Effect games and but aside from that, I’ll play something or maybe I’ll watch something on Netflix. Just anything that can be like a good brain off time. That’s how I recharge.

Jess McAuley  21:22

I myself just got the Nintendo Switch. I’m only just coming into the party now. So I really enjoy Animal Crossing.

Phil Rickaby  21:34

Oh, see, I you know what? I’m just going to admit something here. It’s been almost a year since I went to my Animal Crossing Village. I am afraid of what I would find there. I’m just gonna say

Jess McAuley  21:44

they’re in the same place that the Neopets are.

Phil Rickaby  21:48

Oh, they’re waiting for me. They’re waiting for me. It’s gonna be absolute chaos, junk everywhere.

Jess McAuley  21:53

They’re so mad.

Phil Rickaby  21:55

I don’t think they can’t be mad at you. I don’t think you’re I don’t think your villagers can be that mad at you unless you start abusing them.

Jess McAuley  22:02

I think they make like snarky comments. They make like little tiny ones, but it’s just so sweet and cute that you’re willing to forgive it quickly.

Phil Rickaby  22:11

I will. Yeah, I will. We’ll find out one of these days we will find out what happens if you’re away for almost a year. But like these these games are and things like that. These are a great way. And also if you if you can connect and have people come over to your island that can be kind of fun to is to sort of socialise in the Animal Crossing world.

Jess McAuley  22:36

Oh, absolutely. And I mean, again, it’s a nice, it’s a nice if you introverts out there if you have an opportunity and you have the means to do it. Try out Animal Crossing. It’s really sweet. It’s nice, relaxing game. I find it relaxing.

Phil Rickaby  22:49

But when are you going to get Mario Kart so we can we can race around?

Jess McAuley  22:54

Oh, it’s on Rickaby it’s on. It’s on and I am ruthless. I’m giggly but I will giggle my ass all the way to the end. Okay,

Phil Rickaby  23:06

we will see, we will see

Jess McAuley  23:07

we shall see

Phil Rickaby  23:08

We shall indeed see. So we talked about like Zoom at work, such with Zoom with friends and like trying to do that sort of thing. The other the other area where it can be can be a bit problematic is when you have family who’s like we’re doing a family Zoom.

Jess McAuley  23:24

Oh, no, yeah, we had to go through that, um, my nanny, just, I think, near the beginning of the lockdown. First lockdown, I should say. Unfortunately, she had to be taken to a, a long term care home. And so trying to get the family together on a Zoom call was a nightmare. Ever. There are lots of cousins of mine. And it is pages and pages of you know, just gallery view could not hold us, right? Hearing everybody talk on top of each other and trying to keep the conversation to a minimum just so my poor nanny can like pay attention. I just see her sweet little eyes like who is saying what was going on?

Phil Rickaby  24:09

zoom – for that kind of thing. It’s like It’s like you give them any people and then because of all of the lag people don’t know they’re talking over each other is just just miserable.

Jess McAuley  24:19

Oh, yeah. My cousin planned to sing my nanny the song, It was close to Valentine’s Day and he begins to sing it. But all the cousins not some of them couldn’t hear that he had said so I prepared something for nanny. They just heard him starting to sing and then they all just joined in. It was like this giant choir of everyone singing my cousins just like I literally learned that it took me a while.

Phil Rickaby  24:43

What’s crazy about that is like when I was at work near the beginning, we used to have like these regular meetings have a daily meeting. If somebody had a birthday, we would attempt over zoom to sing happy birthday. But because of the lag it was always terrible. Everybody’s singing At different different times different speeds, different tempos, different different octaves. It was it was horrible, horrible.

Jess McAuley  25:09

It sounds okay, this is one Christmas, I had this old VHS copy of home alone. And my friends and I decided we were going to do a mini drinking game of it. Oh, now just getting to the point is when it came to the opening, the tape was so warped, that it would kind of sound like a neat, didn’t it? I kind of like it. I kind of likened it to what your Happy Birthday over zoom with sound like it’s just “ah-ro-ro-cho”.

Phil Rickaby  25:41

It might have been worse than that. Because I would always take my headphones out, because I just couldn’t listen to everybody else. Like just it’s so miserable.

Jess McAuley  25:50

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And are there any singers in that group?

Phil Rickaby  25:54

I mean, sure, but nobody really tries to sing happy birthday. Well, it’s really never met anyone that will it’s really about who could sing it the loudest or something like that, or whatever. It doesn’t Absolutely. Do you have I mean, you’re relatively new to the regular video meeting. Do you have any tricks or coping mechanisms that you’ve developed, that you’re that you’re currently using or that you’re that you’re thinking about using the help to help you get through the meetings?

Jess McAuley  26:25

Well, because the camera is on just my face and you only see my shoulders, I find something to fidget with. Like I I used to have playdough I used to have a stress ball I would just hold twiddle my pen and my fingers just because I was getting anxious. And again, that internal focus of okay look interested, look interested, look it up too much, too much. Okay, close the don’t don’t widen your eyes so much it looked like it was just getting worse and worse. So I think finding something to keep my hands occupied. And trying to find a way to not get my camera on screen. So if I can. I know it’s not popular, but I prefer having whoever the speaker is the very first and I always mute my mic. So that way, I never pop up. Never.

Phil Rickaby  27:16

Yeah, muting your mic is certainly a very smart thing to do yourselves. Remember to unmute because, you know, every meeting is like a choruses of you’re muted as somebody starts to talk. It’s just just kind of miserable. But I have developed this trick. And I hope nobody from work is actually listening to this, because so sometimes I have to keep working during meetings. But I it’s also important that I look like I’m focusing. So I have mastered doing one thing, or my camera is on and still kind of nodding and making like gestures like, Oh, that’s a good point. Like, as I’m doing something else. And I will just sort of like, as somebody else’s going and do talking about stuff. And I it doesn’t even I just I’m just trying to keep my face animated, acting like I’m reacting to what’s being said, while I’m doing other work. And it’s probably not a good habit. But it’s it’s one way to, you know, do work? Well. The meeting is going on.

Jess McAuley  28:15

His name is Phil Rickaby. And he is listening.

Phil Rickaby  28:20

Listening air quotes. One thing that I will do like being muted is super important, just for everybody’s sanity, but also, if I can find a moment where I can have my camera off, so that I don’t have to look at myself, my God, I just like, and you know, when we all have, it doesn’t matter who we are, I think that we all have a narcissistic streak when it comes to having our face on screen. And we can’t help but look at ourselves when we’re there. Like if there was a way to turn it off, so that we didn’t have to look at ourselves. That would be great, but I don’t think it exists. You’re there unless your camera’s off. And we can’t help but like, what am I doing in my face right now? Is that how I look? Oh, what am I doing? You know, like all of these things running through our heads, or we should be paying attention to them to the meeting, but we can’t because we could see our faces.

Jess McAuley  29:14

So that brings me to the second article.

Phil Rickaby  29:18

Oh good,

Jess McAuley  29:19

Once again from National Geographic because that is my bag. This one here was from an article called zoom fatigue may be with us for years. Here’s how we’ll cope. Click Beatty Title I know, but hey, we’re still interesting. So one thing about the article I just wanted to highlight again is something we’ve touched on a couple times and you’ve just mentioned it now is this need to just check on to see how we look. Listeners I’d have a tendency to do this. I’ve worked very hard to move my camera out of focus for myself. I even had to tell Phil one time when I was having a great skin day and the light was just hitting me that I may be staring myself because I am in fact looking like an ethereal goddess, and it’s great. But on a particular finding that I found interesting, the study describes hyper gaze and intense feeling that the other people on the call are staring at you. Because the video conferencing display shows everyone looking at their cameras, no matter who their focus is actually on. And it’s even worse than one on one meetings, when your colleagues face appears so large on the screen, it’s as if they’re standing less than two feet away. This kind of physical proximity that is mimicked by video conference is perceived by the brain as a situation that would lead either to meeting or to conflict. Interesting, right. I, I read this article. And then, shortly after I had a meeting with my boss, and I, I couldn’t help myself, but just thinking it right in the back of my head. And I was like, is that what I look like? When I’m really and then I was looking at him a little while longer. And he’s like, are you okay? And I’m like, yeah, I’m just keep it really close in person, wouldn’t you if this were the screen? And we got to this interesting conversation. And then finally, I think the comfort level came up, and it was a if you want to turn the camera off, you can do so I’ll keep you know, we did it that way. We were just, it felt a little bit more organic. But it’s I never thought of it that way. Yeah.

Phil Rickaby  31:35

It’s super interesting. I, when I am recording my other podcast, Stageworthy, I tend to do it with camera off.  I tend to do it with no video. We don’t see each other unless somebody specifically requests. It says something like, I find it easier to connect. If I can see the person, then we do that. But for me, I think that we can get more into it with that, that podcast, that if it’s just voice. I don’t I think that it’s seeing each other is too much. People will start to worry Oh, do I have to put on makeup or like make myself brush my hair or I have to get dressed? Must I wear pants for this? I get these important questions. And I would just rather take that all off the table and make sure that people are just, we’re just voice. We don’t have to worry about what anybody looks like. We just have to worry about how we how we sound.

Jess McAuley  32:26

First time I ever heard you was on a screen. And I just thought about that memory. The first time I ever chatted with you was on stage where they and I just remember hearing this voice coming through. You’re going this guy’s good. That’s a good nugget. Thank you. Good. Thank you. You’re welcome. That memory just popped up.

Phil Rickaby  32:44

Now, as far as you know, I gave some I gave I think I have to say the The advice I gave, for what I do to cope with video calls is not something that I would necessarily recommend to Everybody

Jess McAuley  32:55

jump from screen to another screen like

Phil Rickaby  32:58

don’t nod your head as though you’re listening. Don’t pretend to be listening and gesture is Ooh, that’s a really good point. Don’t do that don’t do what I’m doing in case somebody goes like, Oh, you seem to have a thought about that. Phil, why don’t you tell us what you think? Like anything like that you don’t know if you’re on screen as if the person who’s speaking can see you you don’t know, don’t do that. I shouldn’t do it, I do, it’s probably going to bite me in the ass. I hope nobody from work listens to this right now. Um, but I think for me, the most helpful thing is, like, I try to make sure if I have back to back meetings, I have to make sure that I force a moment between meetings so that I’m not like running into each meeting, back to back, I make sure that I have a fresh coffee or something to drink, that I get up and go outside on my balcony or just outside just to get away from the computer. And then I’ll come back just to try to have the sense of a change of scenery between these two these meetings. And and that sort of helps me from from glazing over and not knowing what I’m doing.

Jess McAuley  34:06

No, it’s so true. Taking that like just two minutes to go outside and get fresh air. I decided to do that on a 15 minute break. I just been in meetings all day and I just couldn’t take it getting outside just to feel that fresh breeze does more wonders than one actually thinks and even just that fresh cup of coffee. Do yourself a favour get up and stretch. Do something else that’s not necessarily on the screen. Get away from the desk. Definitely great advice.

Phil Rickaby  34:39

on social media, we asked, it’s been 14 months since video meetings have become the norm for a lot of us. It seems like we’re spending more time in virtual meetings than we ever did in person. Video meetings take more focus than in person meetings. So how are you dealing with zoom fatigue? What are your tips for dealing with it? Leanne said, I leave my camera off most of the time, it helps me to not have to be as stressed about what I’m looking like. A lot of people are running meetings that way, only on camera when you’re talking excuses, because it saves bandwidth.

Jess McAuley  35:17

No, it’s true. But I think more workplaces do need to give you that opportunity to take the camera off. Because we don’t need to prove that we’re here. I don’t need to prove to you that I’m listening, my work performance is going to show you that we’ve been working at home long enough that I think that trust should be there that I can sit at my desk. And I can be focusing on the work and what’s being said. And if I don’t understand something, just put it out there at the beginning of the meeting to you know, say something in the chat room, if if something comes up, and you need to clarification or some zoom meetings have the raise hand option, which is really, that’s a good one. So more opportunities for camera off. If you if you run meetings out there,

Phil Rickaby  36:01

I think that people should do that a lot. Some companies are still  – because they can’t be in the office, right. And for some companies, like for them, having people in the office is a way to make sure that people are doing their jobs. And so having people on camera, make sure that people are doing their jobs by paying attention to my meeting, you know, and that’s sort of like, I think in some cases, some companies want everybody on camera, it’s a terrible thing to do to people give people the option to turn off their camera, here here. Karen says, in person, I have the option of choosing how visible I am in a room, I can pick a corner or shut myself off physically. In some of these zoom situations, I have to be visible and it’s all equal. Which means if I get tired or emotional, or anything I’ve seen in equal measure to everyone else. It’s extremely exhausting.

Jess McAuley  36:53

Oh, absolutely. You’re not alone on that. And it’s nice that you have your own little space that you carved out for yourself.

Phil Rickaby  37:01

Yeah, no, it’s really good. I mean, that’s that is certainly one of the big differences between the the the zoom meeting or the video meeting is everybody is seen equally. And so there is really no hiding if cameras have to be on. There’s no hiding. And so in some ways, you don’t know who’s seeing you and I can make people uncomfortable. Everybody might be seen equally. It’s just it very stressful about the whole being seen thing. Because, you know, not everybody is always looking at us. And like, like you pointed out, it feels like everybody on screen is looking at us because they’re all looking straight ahead of the camera.

Jess McAuley  37:43

Here’s that hyper gaze again. Yeah, there it is. It’s more prevalent than we think. And it’s a it’s more of a mental strain than I ever thought it was going to be. I mean, I remember going on to websites like Omegle back in the days or Chat Roulette. You know, when you’re in high school and just looking to cause trouble. It’s great. That was fine. I signed up for this. I did not sign up to be paid to be do this for a living. No, thank you. Thank you.

Phil Rickaby  38:09

Yeah. Also with those other services you got to choose when those how often you were doing it.

Jess McAuley  38:15

Fair enough, fair enough, you were allowed to switch rooms.

Phil Rickaby  38:18

And you could also decide that you weren’t going to do it anymore. You could turn it off for the night or the day or whatever.

Jess McAuley  38:23

No explanations needed. Jess has left the chat.

Phil Rickaby  38:27

Kenny says: my job uses zoom meetings for online learning courses and conferences. Thankfully, they don’t require video connection. I usually turn off my camera feed to put on my wireless headphones and clean the house while I listen to the information occasionally popping back in front of the computer to participate in the interactive portions of the meeting. This method might not work for most situations, but it certainly takes the boredom out of being glued to the computer for four plus hours.

Jess McAuley  38:56

I like that. No, it’s true. You know, something I I did something similar as well, one time, I started just cleaning up my workstation while I was listening and just being able to have that moment of therapy for myself. Yeah, invigorated the conversation more for me. So I like that.

Phil Rickaby  39:14

Definitely. It’s definitely great if you can, if you can do that, you’re able to do that. Absolutely. And four plus hours is a horrible amount of time to try to trap somebody in front of a computer

Jess McAuley  39:24

and expect a lot of productivity out of them.

Phil Rickaby  39:27

Yeah, no, yeah. Scott says something I learned that really helps me: during breaks, take a moment to look at something far away. A distant building or whatever it feels like unplugging my brain and plugging it back in again.

Jess McAuley  39:43

Okay, okay. Yeah, yeah, or just like go on people watching if you’re if you’re able to

Phil Rickaby  39:49

any kind of change of pace from what you’re looking at is a great idea to refresh your brain.

Jess McAuley  39:56

Hmm. Sans screen

Phil Rickaby  39:58

Sans screen. Yes. Don’t just switch over to another screen, it’s not the same thing.

Jess McAuley  40:04

No.  No it ain’t.

Phil Rickaby  40:06

Sabrina says normalising not having the camera on which I have more freedom and influence with because of my role. I will also keep my hands busy to resist the urge to multitask. I have a colouring book and some small Crafty Things within arm’s reach that keep me engaged and listening. Depending on the activity and camera angle, I can do these things with my camera on too.

Jess McAuley  40:29

That’s right, keeping their hands busy. It’s It’s really good. You know, I went to the show a long time ago, when there were live events, they do exist. And the the host actually had colouring pages and pencil crayons. So that way you could fully listen and still be able to keep your hands busy. And I had never realised that I am that type of learner that I need to have something in my hands in order to keep my mind from wandering. And, again, not having that APD in the back of my head always there. I’m always constantly finding things to help me take in the information. So that is a great idea. Sabrina,

Phil Rickaby  41:14

yeah, it really is. And I think there’s something about, about keeping your hands busy, which is, which is a great way to to like again, not not switch over to another screen and do some work. Like Don’t do it. Don’t fake listen like I do. Keep your hands busy in the room and try to to keep present in in in the call. And I do think like camera off whenever possible. workplaces that are trying to insist that you have your camera on, you need to stop, need to stop and let people have their camera off. We’re spending too much time in these meetings as it is and it’s it’s taking too much out of us.

Jess McAuley  41:56

Especially now for us folks here in Ontario, listen, we don’t get to get away from our homes very often. shackling us to our desk in our home. Yeah, is beyond rude. Okay, let’s be more inclusive. Let’s remember, folks need to get up, get a stretch, go outside, get your camera off.

Phil Rickaby  42:17

You don’t the other thing is is just as another point of point of fact is make sure that you have an end to your day. If you’re working from home, it can seem like is doesn’t it’s not much of a keep working past the time I pass quitting time. It doesn’t, it’s not that bad. If I keep checking my email, all of that is taking its toll. Put a barrier around your work day, you’ll be much happier if you can do that.

Jess McAuley  42:43

Work From Home has been brought into your home and it’s your space, you need to keep it that way. Yeah, because eventually you will go back to work and it will be in person again. And you need to be able to adjust to that accordingly. Not carving out this time for yourself to figure out what you need while you work from home is you’re robbing yourself of a good transition, in my opinion as well. But the other

Phil Rickaby  43:09

thing is to keep in mind that for some people, this is how it’s going to be my work place is predominantly going to be work from home, there are a few people who will have an office to go to. But for the most part, most people have said that they want to work from home. And so this is this is the the reality going forward for my company for a lot of other companies. And when you are putting in I mean just from an anti capitalist point of view, when you’re putting in more time than you’re being paid for you are you know you’re doing more than you’re giving more than you’re being compensated for. Don’t ever do that for any company that you work for. But also just you’re destroying your own sanity and your life, you’re just going to burn out. Make sure that you you end your day and end your day and don’t look at work stuff until you start the next day.

Jess McAuley  43:59

No company is worth doing that to yourself where you are all consumed with your work pandemic or not. Yeah, your body is your own. It is does not belong to your workspace. and maintaining that autonomy for yourself, especially during this time is so mentally important as well as physically. It’s just getting up to do that those little stretches in between clocking out at five o’clock or whatever that time is. Do it. I know sometimes there’s a lot of us that want to work I myself find you know, I’m lingering a little bit longer on the computer at work than I should. But it’s a you know, I don’t have the commute time right now. I have my couch right behind me. It is a comforting feeling. Take advantage of that while you can because unfortunately, I’m envious of you right now. And I hope my boss listens to this but I would love to continue working from home if I could. Mm hmm. Yeah. So clock out at five.

Phil Rickaby  44:57

Yeah, make sure that you do that. You do that. That’s The only way to make sure that you still have your life and not like work life balance is the thing that has to exist. If it’s all work and no life, what’s the point? Did we learn anything today?

Jess McAuley  45:21

Yeah, actually, I learned that I really should be advocating more for off camera. I think that’s something that I’m going to I thankfully have a inclusive and open work environment. So I think it’s worthwhile to start bringing up Look, if we want to do on camera meetings, that’s fine. But can we limit them? If if it’s somebody that’s just going to be giving me information, I would rather be off camera, if it’s an interactive conversation. And it’s it’s a meeting where everybody has to participate, then fine, but let’s limit those meetings. I think I’m going to advocate for that.

Phil Rickaby  45:59

I learned that I need to stop fake participating in meetings and actually stay attentive to the meeting, and stop pretending that I am actually listening and maybe I will try to do something with my hands. So that I’m not tempted to go. I have a Rubik’s cube that I don’t intend to ever solve. I’m never going to solve it. It’s not going to happen. I’m just randomly turning that thing. The only way it will ever get solved is by chance. Maybe I can just like absolutely fiddle with that and try to keep you know, active with the meeting, rather than doing the whole fake active, not head nod.

Jess McAuley  46:37

Ooh, just create an unintentional algorithm with your Rubik’s Cube incredible just random turns, just random twists and turns.

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