Why are video-meetings so exhausting?

Even since the nation went into a lockdown, I’ve been on enough Zoom calls than I can count. If it’s not Zoom meetings or virtual happy hours with colleagues, it’s catching up on Skype or FaceTime with friends and family. While it’s true that introverts are more comfortable with online interactions, the excessive videos calls weren’t exactly what most of us were expecting.

Jodi Eichler-Levine, a religion studies professor at Lehigh University, found excessive Zoom meetings tiring As she tells National Geographic’s Julia Sklar that while teaching has always been exhausting, she has never ‘conked out’ like that before.

In addition to working remotely, working professionals found themselves attending the weekly happy hour, a casual book reading night with friends, and family brunches – all over video conferencing apps.

zoom fatigue video calls

Is Zoom fatigue a thing?

But, what exactly is tiring us out?

Psychologists says Zoom fatigue could be due to a lot of factors including excessive self-awareness and over-scheduling.

Gianpiero Petriglieri, a management expert at Insead business school, says that being on a video call requires us to be more focused than on an in-person meeting. Video chats demand that we work harder to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language. We are required to pay more attention which leads us to spending excessive energy in a brief amount of time.

Sitting in a face-to-face meeting allows us to be more in the moment and not feel stilted when in a video conference call. According to Suzanne Degges-White, we lose about 58 percent of communication on a video call due to absence of body language.

This dissonance between the mind and body causes people to have conflicting feelings, which is mentally taxing.

creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, one becomes more self-aware and anxious when it happens on a video call.

A 2014 study by German academics noted that delays on conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively. As short as a 1.2 seconds delay made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.

Excessive self-awareness is another reason. We get conscious when we know everybody on the call is looking at us. This becomes exhausting and stressful over time. It’s difficult for people not to look at their own face and not to be conscious of how they look and behave in front of the camera.

Priyansha Mistry
Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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