Findings from a new study suggest that videoconferencing could be less strenuous if participants felt a sense of belonging to a group. The study found that video recording did not affect feelings of fatigue.
As remote working and the use of video conferencing have increased dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, more people are tired of meeting on computer screens instead of in person. The research was published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
In this study, 55 employees across the United States were asked about their feelings about video conferencing. The researchers thought lengthy meetings and videotaping would cause the most fatigue, but their results surprised them, said lead researcher Andrew Bennett, PhD, an assistant professor at Old Dominion University.
“We expected aspects of video recording to be related to fatigue, such as looking closely at all the faces on a screen or even looking at yourself, but we did not find this to be the case in our study. Longer meetings had too no effects fatigue, “said Bennett. “However, the importance of having a sense of belonging or connection with the group has really minimized post-video conference fatigue.”
Bennett’s team decided to investigate video conferencing fatigue, or “zoom fatigue,” because they all felt exhausted after their first video conferencing together when they started working remotely in the early days of the pandemic.
In the past year, the study participants received nine hourly surveys daily on five consecutive working days. Of the surveys sent, participants completed more than 1,700 surveys and participated in an average of five to six video conferences during the week. The majority of the participants were men (58 percent) and whites (73 percent) with an average age of 33 years.
One participant said videoconferencing “can be mind and soul stressful” while another “was tired of being in them” and “especially tired after being in them”. Only 7 percent of the participants did not report any signs of fatigue during video conferences.
According to the study, observing on a webcam or switching it off had no statistically significant effects on fatigue after the meeting. Participants reported conflicting feelings about using the webcam. Some said it was tiring to keep staring at the screen, while others thought it was impersonal for participants to turn off their webcams.
“Everyone just wants to get in and out, to log in and out,” reported one participant. “There is very little talk before and after the meeting, as there would be in real life.”
This chatter could help build a sense of group belonging, which had a marked effect on reducing video conferencing fatigue, the researchers said. There also seemed to be a sweet spot in the early afternoon when videoconferencing caused less fatigue than at other times of the day.
Based on their results, the researchers made some recommendations to reduce video conferencing fatigue:
Hold video conferencing in the early afternoon.
Improve group awareness, including time for small talk before or after the meeting or breakout rooms, where people can talk about their interests (sports, movies, etc.).
Establish basic meeting rules, such as: B. whether webcams should remain switched on and no other work should be carried out.
Take breaks by looking away from the screen, standing up, and walking around.
“We know video conferencing helps,” said Bennett. “We get more emotional and non-verbal information from them, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be done in a video conference. Sometimes a phone call or email is more effective and efficient.”
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