Zoom fatigue is getting worse, and users are finding ways to escape the endless video meetings.
A new software tool called Zoom Escaper lets you pretend your video connection is so bad you have to get off the call. The software, and others like it, are a boon to those who’ve had enough with being on camera.
“After more than a year of being in a pandemic and face-to-face meetings being limited, people are starting to feel the effects of Zoom burnout,” Kristen Fowler, an executive recruiter at Clarke Caniff Strategic Search, said in an email interview. “It can be exhausting having to worry about who is walking through your background, yelling in the background, or if your camera is angled properly.”
Let the Babies Cry
Zoom Escaper allows you to choose from barking dogs, construction noises, crying babies, or problems with your connection like choppy audio and unwanted echoes. To use the tool, you just download software called VB-Audio that routes your audio through the Zoom Escaper website, then change your audio input in Zoom from your microphone to VB-Audio. You can then change the various sound effects.
New research by software transcription company otter.ai shows that more than 40 percent of remote workers have experienced Zoom fatigue. This has led to negative work-life balance, including loss of sleep and a sense of entrapment, Sam Liang, the company’s co-founder and CEO said in an email interview.
“This starkly demonstrates that we need to make meetings more efficient, that we need to be more judicious about who needs to attend these meetings,” Liang said. “And we need to find ways of keeping colleagues informed without dragging everyone onto constant Zoom calls.”
"After more than a year of being in a pandemic and face-to-face meetings being limited, people are starting to feel the effects of Zoom burnout."
Liang touted his own company’s software as a way to escape Zoom meetings. He said the software could “translate these voice conversations into text that can later be used as notes or for colleagues who either couldn't be on the call or didn't need to be there.”
Liang added that their research indicates smaller, shorter meetings could be far more effective.
How to Get out of Zoom Without Even Trying
Sometimes, you don’t need software to interrupt Zoom. Fowler was on a recent Zoom sales presentation when her dog continuously barked at a delivery truck making stops along her street.
“Due to being on video, I couldn’t just mute myself and yell for her to stop,” she said. “I typed in the chat that I was having difficulty with the audio and needed to reboot the program. I quickly logged off, got my dog settled with a treat to occupy her and rejoined the meeting when peace was restored.”
"It can be exhausting having to worry about who is walking through your background, yelling in the background, or if your camera is angled properly."
Another software solution for Zoom fatigue could be Voodle, which uses short videos for work meetings rather than just letting people talk freely during sessions.
“The future of work requires short asynchronous video,” Tim Porter, Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group, which backs Voodle, said in an email interview. “Zoom fatigue is a very real thing today’s remote workforce must manage, and Voodle helps mitigate some of the burden—and burnout—created by trying to force former office life rhythms into endless hours of video conference calls.”
There’s also Circles for Zoom, which shows participants in small circles on your screen rather than the large zoom window.
“It allows you to relax a bit and focus on the topic of the conversation and any supporting materials you're referencing on your computer,” Dave Schatz, co-founder of Circles, said in an email interview.
But the best cure for Zoom fatigue might be not getting on video at all, Schatz said.
“Go for a walk and take calls on the phone,” he said. “We're all stuck in our homes, and it's nice to get outside and walk around the block and take your calls on the phone if video is not absolutely necessary.”