A group of diverse business colleagues participate in a virtual staff meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. An African American businesswoman participates in the virtual event from her office.

How Business Owners Avoid Zoom Fatigue and Set Healthy Work Boundaries


Anybody else just over virtual meetings? 


Zoom fatigue is not a new phenomenon but it’s gained more popularity since the world went remote in 2020. Its older cousins go by the names of technostress and digital fatigue. These newish conditions are a form of burnout caused by technology that’s taking your energy. 


Entrepreneurs may feel obligated to hop on Zoom because a client wants it. But this adds stress and distractions to your days and makes it nearly impossible to complete your work. 


In this article, you’ll discover signs you have Zoom fatigue and tactics to Zoom-out to take back your days. 


Physical pain and Mental Overload? Turn off your camera and go audio-only.


If you’re experiencing physical exhaustion and soreness after hopping off a virtual meeting or video call, you’ve got Zoom fatigue.


This happens because your brain is working overtime. For example, normal in-person meetings need eye contact and facial expressions as social cues that trigger emotion and response. In a digital landscape, however, these signals don’t matter. A facial expression you interpret as boredom or disinterest could be a distraction in someone’s home like a small child or a pet. 


The problem is that your brain doesn’t know the difference. It’s working overtime to gauge the expressions of everyone on the call including your own. Compounded with the blue light from the screen and sitting all day, you start to experience pain and tension making burnout worse.


So how do you protect your physical health?


If possible turn off your camera and physically move away from the computer screen. If no one is presenting, audio-only can give your brain a break and help your body and eyes rest from the screen light.  


Avoiding video calls or canceling them altogether? Skip it.


One simple way to identify digital burnout is if you’re starting to roll your eyes when someone even suggests ‘hopping on a call.’ Video conferencing and virtual meetings interrupt your day and may derail any progress you were making on your goals. The worst part is they always seem urgent but rarely are.


If you find yourself wanting to skip meetings more and more often, skip them.


As an entrepreneur, you set the tone in your business. Limit client calls to once a month if possible or eliminate them altogether. Allowing exceptions for emergencies can help you serve your clients well while also protecting your time. 


For your team, only schedule meetings that are absolutely necessary. If you can’t be there, offer alternatives like email, phone calls, or chat boxes. 


Most importantly, if you can’t avoid the meetings altogether, keep them short. Quick 15-minute calls will force all parties to get to the point. 


Difficulty being present outside of work? Time for a dopamine detox.


Outside of virtual meetings, being stuck behind screens all day is constantly flooding your system with stimuli. The result is an overloaded, distracted brain. It becomes harder to focus even when you’re with your family and friends. 


The solution? Unplug for the weekend. This necessary break is a dopamine detox that resets your energy and renews your motivation for work. Something as small as taking a long walk on the weekend without your devices can go a long way. To take it a step further, schedule a getaway or retreat every 90 days. 


To help with this, Sistahbiz Global Network hosts periodic business retreats. Each event is designed to help black women business owners connect, set goals, and get actionable business advice from experts. It’s the perfect time to Zoom-out of the day-to-day and reinvigorate your drive for success.


Maintaining your energy is about balance. Taking a moment to step away and breathe deeply helps you refocus your mind on what and who is truly important.


Most of all remember that you’re not alone on your entrepreneur journey. There will also be hands reaching out to lift you up if you seek them out. The Sistahbiz community was established to offer this help to black women entrepreneurs. Join the community today to get the help you need to push past your barriers and surround yourself with like-minded business leaders.

Sheila Ellis-Glasper

Sheila Ellis-Glasper is the founder of SEG Media Collective. She helps business owners and organization leaders amplify impact, revenue and legacy through branding and digital media.

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