Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Video conferencing fatigue
What is video conferencing fatigue, what causes it, what are its consequences, and what can be done about it?
Video conferencing (VC) is a type of online meeting that allows individuals and groups to engage in real-time multi-directional audio-visual communication from the same or another location, region, or even country. VC is commonly used for communication and collaboration within and between organisations, businesses, and educational institutions, but it is also used privately with family and friends (Döring et al., 2022). The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has hampered social mobility, forcing billions of people worldwide to replace face-to-face communication with virtual meetings. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype and Cisco Webex have become trendy choices for video conferencing and virtual meetings, with very high adoption rates in 2020. (Bennett et al., 2021). Technology consumers began discussing video conference fatigue, a potentially new phenomenon of feeling exhausted after participating in a video conference.
In this chapter, "videoconferencing fatigue" is defined as the experience of fatigue during and/or after a video conference, regardless of the specific VC tool used (see Figure 1). We will also use the famous "Zoom fatigue" synonymously with the more generic title "video conference fatigue."
Video conferencing fatigueEdit
“The formula was simple: E + F + C = M. That is, excitement plus fatigue, plus confusion equals mistakes.” ― Rutledge Etheridge, Agent of Destruction
The COVID-19 pandemic induced a boom in both private and professional videoconferencing in the early 2020s that elicited controversial public and academic debates about its pros and cons. One main concern has been the phenomenon of video conference fatigue.
Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom, claims to have suffered from Zoom Fatigue. According to the Times, Yuan once had 19 video call meetings back to back. While we may or may not have had 19 meetings in a row, we can all relate to the burnout feeling experienced after videoconferencing throughout the day (Volkwyn, 2022).
Have a think
Zyan lives in a bustling city in an apartment building. Zyan has been video-chatting more than ever since the pandemic lockdown began. It was Zoom hangouts with friends and FaceTime with family if it wasn't Google Meet with colleagues. Zyan, an introvert, welcomed this socialisation because he craved human interaction every now and then. But, as time passed, he noticed that video calls were becoming unusually exhausting in ways he hadn't anticipated. Did the increase in video calls cause Zyan to experience Zoom fatigue?
Videoconferencing fatigue has a variety of symptoms (Riedl, 2021). Some of these symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Eye strain
- General tiredness
- Mental fatigue
- Muscle tension
Many of these symptoms overlap with burnout symptoms (see Figure 2). According to Durmuş et al., (2022), digital burnout is caused by spending too much time on digital devices (Computers, Smart phones , Tablets etc) when involved in video conferencing. It's interesting how the symptoms of digital burnout overlap, causing negative physical, spiritual, and social consequences.
Four dimensions of fatigue could contribute to theoretical understanding of Zoom fatigue by accounting for the various aspects associated with fatigue and based on previous work on fatigue. The dimensions are inspired by how people express themselves about their fatigue. The 4D-model of VC fatigue aids in the identification and organisation of relevant personal, organisational, technological, and environmental factors (Döring et al., 2022).
- Personal factors - Personal factors are person-related factors that influence the experience of videoconference fatigue. Individual and social factors are sub-dimensions of the personal factors dimension (see Figure 3). Individual factors are associated with sociodemographic variables (e.g., gender, age, race, ethnicity), personality types, and cognitive traits, whereas social factors are associated with how people around the media user (e.g., family members, peers, colleagues) influence their attitudes towards and use or non-use of specific media.
- Technology factors - With the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing popularity of work-from-home (WFH) opportunities and online social interactions, the use of VC technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Users' perception, cognitive load, interaction, and communication are typically affected by VC technology, potentially leading to stress, exhaustion, and fatigue. The dimension of technological factors can be further subdivided into four sub-dimensions (see Figure 3). The rationale for the sub-dimensions of the technological factor is related to the perceptual and communication processes of those involved in the VC meeting (Raake et al., 2022).
- Organisational factors - The goal of organisational factors is to map the fatiguing effects associated with when, how, and why videoconferencing technology is used. This dimension includes temporal-organisational factors and context and content factors of videoconference sessions (see Figure 3). The timing, number, and duration of VC sessions are temporal-organisational factor attributes, whereas anticipated outcome and activity during the VC session are contexts and content factor variables. According to Cao et al. (2021), online meeting characteristics such as group size, length, time, and type significantly correlate with multitasking behaviour, decreasing attention and increasing mental fatigue.
- Environmental factors - The environmental dimension of VCs is divided into two parts: micro-environmental factors and macro-environmental factors (see Figure 3). VC sessions are typically held in the micro-environment of a person's workplace, home, or while WFH. Conflicting roles and demands of the work and home contexts can cause VC fatigue, especially when WFH (Palumbo, 2020). According to the study by Bartoszek et al., (2020), the COVID-19 pandemic made it nearly impossible to separate out the exhaustion caused by pandemic-related disruptions on both private and professional lives, resulting in inconvenient VC session.
Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale, or ZEF Scale
Fatigue is a complex concept that has been examined in various ways by scholars and researchers in multiple fields. Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab studied more than 3,000 people to devise the Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue (ZEF) scale. The method is laid out in this academic paper, published in August–December 2021 issue of Computers in Human Behavior Reports.
The ZEF scale measures the mental and physical stresses we all suffer from regularly meeting on video — headaches, energy levels, eyestrain, physical pain, and emotional impact. The Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue Scale, or ZEF Scale, measures how much fatigue people experience in the workplace due to videoconferencing. The ZEF scale development process was divided into three stages (item development, scale development, and scale evaluation), all of which were guided by best practices for scale development. The scale is a 15-item questionnaire that is freely available and has been tested in five separate studies with over 500 participants over the past years. It inquires about the individual's general, physical, social, emotional, and motivational fatigue. The final ZEF Scale comprises 15 items across five constructs, as shown in Table X. (Fauville et al., 2021).
Want to help add data to the study and find out how your Zoom fatigue rates on a scale? Take the survey here.
ZEF scale and psychological well-beingEdit
Although virtual interactions may be better for well-being than no social interactions, excessive VC usage causes psychological distress and dissatisfaction with life. Virtual interaction is particularly problematic for students, particularly at-risk youth . Some people are more affected by Zoom fatigue than others, but most of the population's well-being and mental health are likely to suffer . Virtual interactions are preferable to none for happiness and productivity . However, in-person interactions outperform virtual interactions regarding life satisfaction, work engagement, and creativity (Brooks, 2022).
Incremental validity of the ZEF scale has explored via mediational models, where Zoom exhaustion and fatigue predicted (a) psychological distress that in turn predicted life satisfaction, and (b) psychological distress that in turn predicted academic well-being.
The pandemic and mandatory remote working involving the use of VC had a social, financial, and logistical impact on individuals' home environments. Life satisfaction is significantly influenced by how people perceive and interact with technology to coordinate, communicate, and collaborate with others. The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the use of VC technology, which has contributed to the challenges associated with communication and collaboration with friends, family, and colleagues via technology. Lack of social contact, increased stress, burnout, and difficulties with work-life balance as a result of prolonged use of VC technology indicate that many people are overall dissatisfied with their lives, with those WFH slightly worse off than those working in their office (Deutrom et al., 2021).
Videoconference or Zoom fatigue is real and may have unpleasant consequences on academic well-being. Studies with ZEF scale have revealed that self-reported academic performance was associated with and predicted videoconference fatigue. Those who reported low academic performance experienced higher fatigue levels . Significant predictors of VC fatigue among higher education faculty include feeling physically trapped, mirror anxiety and interval and duration between videoconferences (Oducado et al., 2022) .
According to Amponsah et al. (2022), video conferencing during the pandemic was an exhausting experience for students, academic staff, and faculty, affecting the quality of their physical and emotional dimensions of life. Academics agree even though practical digital literacy skills existed, teaching or attending meetings using virtual streaming platforms was a stressful and emotionally draining experience. According to the findings, 'zoom fatigue' is a physical, emotional, and energy-draining COVID-19 phenomenon. Furthermore, the faculty agreed that video conferencing is one tool in the emergence of a digital zoom revolution that has drastically changed the workplace.
Causes and consequences of video conferencing fatigueEdit
Video conferencing fatigue is a real thing that people experience when doing remote work, but it can be challenging to identify the symptoms. Feeling exhausted and drained after your video conferencing calls is one of the most apparent signs of video conferencing fatigue. These are just a few of the symptoms of video conferencing fatigue:
- reduced mobility
- increased cognitive stress
- mental stress
Video call fatigue can make otherwise content people anxious and may increase anxiety levels in those already experiencing such feelings. Video call fatigue can cause people to feel overwhelmed when they would not usually, leading to increased tiredness and even exhaustion.
Linking video conferencing fatigue to variablesEdit
Video conf erencing fatigue affects some individuals more than others. Since the pandemic started, employees and students alike are complaining of Zoom fatigue, that exhausted feeling after a day of online meetings or classes. However, a new study has found that Zoom fatigue may not impact everyone in the same waysociodemographic variables (e.g., gender, age, race, ethnicity), personality types, and cognitive traits (Döring et al., 2022).. The personal factors dimension includes person-related factors that influence videoconference fatigue . It is assumed that VC fatigue is affected by general individual dispositions that are known to influence many types of media effects, particularly
Video conferencing fatigue and genderEdit
The researchers found that the gender difference in feelings of exhaustion was rooted in men's and women’s different responses to looking at themselves on the screen. A Stanford Study found that overall, one in seven women – 13.8 percent – compared with one in 20 men – 5.5 percent – reported feeling “very” to “extremely” fatigued after Zoom calls (see Figure 4).The main reason for this difference appears to be an increase in "self-focused attention," or the awareness of how you look or come across in a conversation, triggered by the camera's self-view. And, while men and women attend the same number of meetings daily, women's meetings are typically longer. Women are also less likely than men to take breaks between discussions and meetings, which can contribute to fatigue. Studies have found that women are more accurate at judging emotions based on the eyes, recognising neutral facial expressions, and interpreting someone's personality or thoughts and feelings. Women may be more affected by the cognitive load associated with these nonverbal mechanisms than men (Fauville et al., 2021).
Video conferencing fatigue and personality typesEdit
Personality and trait theories are helpful because they provide a conceptual lens to understand how a situation can constrain and influence people's behaviour (see Figure 5 for personality types). Traits are valuable because they allow for the quantification of consistent behaviours. Taber et al., (2021) examined behaviour in video versus offline settings using personality measures as WFH changes essential aspects of the interactive context. People presented a more positive self-image when using video than offline, being less Neurotic and more Agreeable. Introverts and extroverts have distinct personality types, with introverts being more easily exhausted after online meetings or video conferencing (Angelina Vedrika Marciella Tobing et al., 2022).
Introverts reported higher levels of exhaustion than extroverts following video conferencing, younger individuals had more exhaustion than older individuals, and people of colour reported a slightly higher level of fatigue than white participants. Extraverts reported lower levels of exhaustion following video conferencing than introverts (see Figure 6 for introversion and extroversion traits). Calm, emotionally stable people also reported less exhaustion than more anxious individuals, who may also have been affected by the self-attention triggered by the digital mirror (Elsesser, 2021).
Video conferencing fatigue and ageEdit
Younger people reported more tiredness than older people, making them more susceptible to Zoom fatigue (Fauville et al., 2021). Senior women reported less technology knowledge, less confidence, and more reliance on others than any other age or gender group. Despite the increased use of technology since the pandemic, seniors found video conferencing stressful. In the face of adversity, health, rather than age, played a critical role in older adults' ability to cope with the stress caused by video conferencing (Nimrod, 2020).
Video conferencing fatigue and race/ethnicityEdit
The colour of one's skin may also influence how much Zoom exhaustion is experienced. Fauville et al., (2021) discovered that people of colour reported higher levels of Zoom fatigue than white participants. VC fatigue varies by race/ethnicity, with White people experiencing less than those identifying as Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, or Asian (see Figure 7 for various ethic groups). Asians have been found to have higher levels of dissatisfaction with their facial features than Whites, supporting the theory that viewing self-video in VCs may increase focus on facial dissatisfaction, particularly for Asians, and thus increase VM fatigue (Ratan et al., 2021).
Zyan's case study revisited
Zyan decides to test his zoom fatigue by completing the ZEF scale after hearing about it from a coworker. According to survey results, the frequency, duration, and brevity of video meetings were associated with a higher level of fatigue. Zyan decides to combat zoom fatigue by developing habits that allows him to maximise connection while minimising exhaustion. To reduce zoom fatigue, he uses a variety of tools and strategies, such as limiting video conferencing time and turning off self-view. These settings aided Zyan in finding the right balance and reducing zoom fatigue.
Beating video conferencing fatigueEdit
There are several ways that people can try to limit video call fatigue, as follows (Fosslien & Duffy, 2020):
|Limit video calls||Limit video calls to only those that are necessary. It can be tempting to turn everything into a video call to try to mimic working in the office, but often this can cause more harm than good. If a meeting can take place via a phone call or even email, people may find these options less tiring. Video calls may not always be the most efficient option, and people should keep this in mind when scheduling meetings or wanting to share information.|
|Build in breaks/time management||People need to make sure that they are scheduling in regular short breaks away from the computer, and between video calls when they are WFH. Multiple video calls in a row without any sort of relief between can cause tiredness and make someone feel plain fed up.|
|Have smaller conference calls||Having fewer people in each call can mean that each person has more time to speak. When there are too many people all trying to speak at once, it can end up with nobody being able to get their points across. This can cause frustration and irritability. It also means that the meeting can feel like a waste of time.|
|Establish rules||Setting ground rules, such as requiring everyone to mute their microphones when not speaking, can help keep things running smoothly. Following a strict agenda on the call will help ensure that all topics are covered in a meeting. One can also create 'no meeting' time blocks on a calendar so that the team knows when someone is busy or available.|
|Use the 20-20-20 Rule for Your Eyes||For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. Blue light reduction tools can also help protect your vision and contribute to healthy sleep habits.|
Video wrap up
An interesting and informative video to look at how Zoom fatigue shows up and how to deal with it in a nutshell.
Click here: access video
Video calls are a convenient way to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues without physically being in the same place. Too many video calls, on the other hand, can cause video call fatigue. People must ensure that video calls do not harm their mental health. It is critical to remember that a video call is not the same as an in-person meeting and that everyone must collaborate to navigate these new social norms. Recognizing and treating video conferencing fatigue is critical. Please don't ignore it and let it build up; instead, use the suggestions to combat video conferencing fatigue. If all else fails, stop using video conferencing altogether!
Zoom fatigue is real, as shown by signs like being less active, less motivated, and physically weak. The frequency and usage of video platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams influence zoom fatigue . As a result, some recommendations include reducing the frequency with which this platform is used daily and avoiding attending multiple video conferences simultaneously. When phone calls or e-mails are sufficient, video conferencing should be avoided (Simbolon et al., 2015).
Making the switch to remote work is taxing enough, and the added stress of video conferencing fatigue will only make mental health and quality of work suffer. Therefore, the most important thing to remember is to listen to our body and know when enough is enough.
- Attention restoration theory (Book Chapter , 2016)
- Burnout ( Book Chapter , 2013)
- COVID-19 pandemic impacts on motivation and emotion (Book Chapter , 2020)
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- Flexible work arrangements and work motivation (Book Chapter , 2019)
- Media fatigue (Wikipedia)
- Workplace mental health (Book Chapter , 2020)
- Workplace stress and motivation (Book Chapter , 2019)
- Zoom fatigue (Wikipedia)
- Zoom Video Communications (Wikiversity)
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- A Psychologist Explains How to Cope With Video Chat When You’re Socially Anxious - (discovermagazine.com)
- Feeling video-conference fatigue? You’re not alone (slack.com)
- Guidance on video conferencing (https://wiki.neic.no)
- Stanford researchers identify four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes ( Stanford University )
- Tele-rehabilitation: video-conferencing for delivery of interventions for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Cox et al., 2012)
- The reason Zoom calls drain your energy (BBC.com)
- Videoconferences more exhausting when participants don’t feel group belonging (APA.org)
- What Science Tells Us About Zoom Fatigue (verywellmind.com)
- Zoom fatigue (Wikipedia)
- Zoom fatigue and why it matters: know the facts (University of the Cumberlands)
- Zoom Fatigue in the Age of COVID-19 (Bullock et al., 2022)