Zoom fatigue is real — and it's messing with more than just your head, study finds

Emerging research has provided neurological evidence that videoconferencing can be more mentally and physically draining than face-to-face interactions. A team of Austrian researchers conducted a study in which they monitored university students' brain and heart activity during a 50-minute lecture, with some students attending in person and others via video conference. The findings suggested that videoconferencing led to higher levels of fatigue, sadness, and inattentiveness compared to in-person interactions. The researchers recommended taking breaks after 30 minutes of videoconferencing to mitigate these effects. They emphasized that while videoconferencing can complement face-to-face interaction, it should not be seen as a complete substitute.

The study stands out for its use of brain and heart scans, as opposed to relying solely on self-reported data through questionnaires, which has been the norm in previous research on "Zoom fatigue." The study also highlighted that fatigue from videoconferencing is not solely attributed to longer meetings but also to factors such as individuals disliking the use of videoconferencing platforms.

It's worth noting that the widespread adoption of videoconferencing tools, such as Zoom, was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a significant portion of the workforce transitioning to remote work. Despite the perception of widespread "Zoom fatigue," a Pew Research Center study in 2020 found that fewer than four in 10 workers reported feeling worn out by videoconferencing. A follow-up study in 2022 indicated that the proportion of workers expressing fatigue from videoconferencing had decreased to about one in four. This suggests that while some individuals experience videoconferencing fatigue, it may not be as prevalent as initially believed.  

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