‘Zoom’ anxiety for employees is still a major problem one year into the Covid-19 pandemic, reveals a study.
In the same way that the word ‘Google’ has almost become a verb meaning ‘to search’, the word ‘Zoom’ has almost become a word meaning ‘video call’. Perhaps this is a sign of success for a company, but it seems almost unfair to ‘tar’ Zoom with the challenges faced by all video calls.
The survey revealed the biggest triggers:
- 73% of people have suffered from Zoom Anxiety over the last 12 months
- 180% increase in Google searches for Zoom Anxiety between March 2020 and Dec 2020
- 76% of people said they found that video calls made them more anxious than telephone calls, 48% found them worse than face to face meetings
- 42% said presenting was the task causing the most anxiety
- 83% said having tech/audio problems and not knowing how to fix them was their biggest Zoom Anxiety trigger
- 67% not being able to read caller’s body language caused anxiety
- 56% said feeling like you’re being unheard caused anxiety
- 41% said being put on a call without having time to prepare your appearance caused stress
- 34% said they worried about their background looking unprofessional
Financial services group, Citi, are launching ‘Zoom-free Fridays’ as a way to help the bank’s employees prevent burnout and stress, a year into the pandemic.
Whilst tools like Zoom, Teams and Hangouts have been vital in keeping organisations connected throughout the pandemic, the widespread adoption of video calling has brought its own set of challenges.
Many people feel unnatural and awkward when having to speak on camera, and for some, the pressure of having to perform so frequently on work video calls has lead to the rise of ‘Zoom anxiety’ – a physical feeling of panic when called upon to talk on video.
To find the biggest causes of Zoom Anxiety, presentation design agency Buffalo 7 surveyed 2066 people who work from home to reveal the biggest triggers.
Which Tasks are the Biggest Triggers of Zoom Anxiety?
- Presenting – 42%
- Interviews – 25%
- Client Meetings – 18%
- Team Catch Ups – 15%
When asked, ‘have you experienced Zoom or video call anxiety this year,’ an enormous 73% of respondents said yes. These findings are supported by Google, with a huge 180% increase in UK residents searching for the term ‘Zoom Anxiety’ between March and December 2020.
Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat or a regular phone call, which might be why 76% of people said they found that video calls made them more anxious than telephone calls, and 48% found them worse than face to face meetings.
James Robinson, Marketing Manager at Buffalo 7, said: “Of course, 2020 wasn’t short on anxiety, and we’ve all had a lot to deal with. However, with a huge 73% of respondents saying they’ve struggled with Zoom anxiety at some point over the past 12 months, it’s clear that for many video calls bring with them their own set of challenges.
“Everyone is struggling this year, and if you do suffer from Zoom Anxiety, look to discuss your problems with your manager, or follow the steps we’ve set out. For example, some of these issues come down to confidence – so if you are struggling with tech, could you put aside some time beforehand to learn about common problems, so you’re not caught out when they happen on calls?
“We’re all under a lot of stress recently, and the worst thing you can do for yourself and for your colleagues is add extra pressure on yourself. Always remember – you’re doing great!”
Top tips for building your confidence
With 15% of respondents saying that having to manage the call screen alongside presentations and documents was a cause of Zoom Anxiety, and more of us than ever before now attending or conducting interviews via video, presenting through Zoom is clearly an anxiety-inducing activity. To help you overcome your nerves, consider these five quick tips:
Practice your presentation
If you’re using PowerPoint to show slides, rehearse along with it so you know exactly what image is coming up next – this will help you cycle through slides smoothly. Make sure you know the basics of PowerPoint and how to solve common issues – i.e. things like pressing B if your screen accidentally goes black!
Treat video calls the same
Try and think of a video presentation as the same as a regular one, and react accordingly. If you move your hands around a lot in real life, do so on the call – it’ll feel more natural. If interviewing, don’t be afraid to exaggerate – smile more, laugh more. Sell what you’re feeling across the screen.
Be tech prepared
Test your presentation with a friend beforehand so that you’re prepared for any potential tech and audio issues. Make sure you know how to share screens and how to fix common microphone problems. Check your internet connection before you start the real call.
Face your fears
Remind yourself that nobody ever died from doing a presentation; there is nothing to be scared of! Remember that you are coming across better on screen than you think you are, and any pauses which feel negative on the other side are probably tech related and say nothing about their mood.
Focus on the physical
If you suffer from anxiety in stressful situations, look at the things you can control. Eating healthily and exercising beforehand always help, and make sure you limit your \caffeine intake before the call! The less stressed you are, the less anxious you’ll be.
Top tips for managers to help your teams
If you or one of your team members is suffering from Zoom anxiety, follow some of these quick tips to help alleviate the problem:
Ask if this call is really necessary. It may be easier to add notes onto a shared doc, for example. Video calls may not always be the most efficient option.
Ask your boss if cameras are required on every call. If they are, try putting your camera on a side angle not face-on – you’ll focus less on yourself.
Allow recharge time
Speak to others about only allowing a set amount of calls a day. Can there be a limit? If not, make sure there’s a set time between calls to recharge.
Never drop anyone on a call without telling them in advance. If people have time to prepare, they’ll be more organised and less anxious.
Communicate! Talk to your boss, talk to your team – if there’s an issue, you never know who else is facing it too. Encourage conversations. Ask your boss for a private chat.
Methodology – Buffalo 7 surveyed 2066 UK home workers. Respondents were able to choose multiple responses when we asked about the biggest triggers of Zoom Anxiety, and these were then ranked.