Study focuses on ‘Zoom fatigue’

There is more than meets the eye in using tool

- Brett Molina

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, co-workers, 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 nonverbal cues. We’re still communicat­ing on Zoom without using words, but “users need to work harder to send and receive signals,” Bailenson says.

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 also can 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.

In a statement to USA TODAY, Zoom advises users to take scheduled breaks from their computer and opt for shorter meetings to provide a buffer.

“While for some the transition has been seamless, for others it has been challengin­g,” reads the statement. “We’re all learning this new way of communicat­ing and adjusting to the blurred lines between work and personal interactio­ns.”

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 daily meeting participan­ts to more than 300 million.

 ?? PROVIDED BY ZOOM ?? Zoom meetings have increased eye contact and diminished mobility, a study says.
PROVIDED BY ZOOM Zoom meetings have increased eye contact and diminished mobility, a study says.

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