Tired of virtual meetings? Turn your camera off

·1-min read

As a result of the coronavirus lockdowns, the vast majority of us have had to adapt to working from home.

But while virtual meetings have become a part of life, along with that may come "Zoom fatigue" - a feeling of being drained and lacking energy following a day looking at screens.

However, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona have discovered that turning cameras off during virtual chats can reduce this response.

"When people had cameras on or were told to keep cameras on, they reported more fatigue than their non-camera using counterparts," lead researcher Dr. Allison Gabriel explained. "And that fatigue correlated to less voice and less engagement during meetings. So, in reality, those who had cameras on were potentially participating less than those not using cameras. This counters the conventional wisdom that cameras are required to be engaged in virtual meetings."

For the four-week experiment, Dr. Gabriel and her colleagues studied over 100 participants and made more than 1,400 observations. Accordingly, they discovered that the effects of "Zoom fatigue" were stronger for women and employees newer to the organisation, likely due to added self-presentation pressures.

"Employees who tend to be more vulnerable in terms of their social position in the workplace, such as women and newer, less tenured employees, have a heightened feeling of fatigue when they must keep cameras on during meetings," she added. "Women often feel the pressure to be effortlessly perfect or have a greater likelihood of child care interruptions, and newer employees feel like they must be on camera and participate in order to show productiveness."

Full study results have been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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