Ever feel worn out after wrapping up a series of video meetings? You may be dealing with what’s called “Zoom fatigue.”
A study from Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab highlights four causes for your videoconferencing exhaustion, and how to fix it. The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Technology, Mind and Behavior.
Jeremy Bailenson, the author of the study and founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, said there are four issues that lead to “Zoom fatigue”:
Too much close-up eye contact. Our faces are much larger on the screen than they would appear in a real-life encounter, says Bailenson. Plus, our view of others is set up to simulate maintaining eye contact. “On Zoom, behavior ordinarily reserved for close relationships – such as long stretches of direct eye gaze and faces seen close up has suddenly become the way we interact with casual acquaintances, coworkers, and even strangers,” Bailenson writes.
Viewing yourself during the call. Yes, having to see your perspective during a video call is “stressful,” says Bailenson, comparing it to having someone follow you around the office holding a mirror near you.
Lack of mobility. Because Zoom calls use a fixed view, users can’t really move around during a meeting or phone call, whereas phone or in-person conversations sometimes allow participants to walk around.
Extra effort for non-verbal cues. We’re still communicating on Zoom without using words, but “users need to work harder to send and receive signals,” Bailenson says.
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Among solutions users can implement right now: once you’ve got the camera set up as you prefer, users can hide the view of themselves during calls. They can also reduce the size of their Zoom windows so faces appear smaller. If you’re on a longer meeting, you should consider turning off your video to give yourself a break.
Bailenson also suggests Zoom make changes to its interface to address the issues detailed in the study and reduce fatigue.
Zoom could not be immediately reached for comment.
Zoom and other videoconferencing tools have been critical as more Americans work remotely to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Zoom in particular saw a massive surge in usage in 2020, jumping from 10 million users to more than 300 million.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.