STUDY ZOOMS IN ON INCREASED FATIGUE DURING ON-SCREEN MEETINGS

May 16, 2024 | Nationwide News

A new study by a research team at University of Galway has found that people who took part in meetings on Zoom became more fatigued when they saw themselves on-screen. The findings will offer practical insights for organisations aiming to protect employee wellbeing in the era of hybrid and remote work.

Led by Prof Eoin Whelan, and Dr Ann O’Brien, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, and Dr Denis O’Hora, School of Psychology, the University of Galway team conducted an experiment using EEG monitoring of 32 volunteers – 16 men and 16 women – all of whom participated in a live on-screen meeting, with the self-view mode both on and off at different times.

EEG non-invasively records spontaneous electrical activity in the brain using electrodes placed on the head and can detect the onset of mental fatigue. The monitoring confirmed that fatigue levels were significantly greater during the times participants could view their own image.

Prof. Eoin Whelan, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, University of Galway (Pic: Aengus McMahon)

Prior research suggested that women tend to experience more Zoom fatigue than men. Reasons for this gender difference centre on the increased self-awareness women have of their appearance when they view themselves in a mirror. The study, which measures fatigue at a neurophysiological level, questioned whether gender differences exist for video conferencing fatigue.

Prof Eoin Whelan said: “The use of video conferencing platforms exploded during the lockdown. They continue to be heavily used in work and education today and offer some advantages over in-person meetings. But people often report feeling exhausted by video conference meetings.

“Our study shows that those feelings of fatigue you get during video calls are real, and seeing your own reflection makes it even more tiring. Simply turning off the mirror image can help offset fatigue in virtual meetings.”

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