Zoom fatigue harder on women, new employees

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Women and new employees are more likely to be fatigued by Zoom meetings than their colleagues, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Researchers from the Athens-based University of Georgia, Tucson-based University of Arizona and others partnered with Tucson, Ariz.-based BroadPath, which provides health IT services to providers and payers, according to a Sept. 9 news release. The company has been using its own video software for nearly 10 years. The teams worked to understand if video conferencing added or detracted from the meeting experience.

Five study insights:

  1. Zoom fatigue, or the feeling of being worn out after virtual meetings, isn't caused by spending too much time in meetings but is actually caused by the camera being turned on, according to the study.

  2. "We knew people had the perception that Zoom meetings were leading to fatigue, but we didn’t know what about those meetings was the problem," said Kristen Shockley, a psychology professor at the university. "Our study revealed that there’s something about the camera being on that causes people to feel drained and lack energy."

  3. Women were more likely to feel fatigued by Zoom meetings. The researchers concluded that women may feel more pressure to demonstrate vigilance on camera or hold themselves to higher standards of physical appearance. Women were also statistically more likely than men to have children in their backgrounds.

  4. New employees were also more likely to feel Zoom fatigue because they may feel the need to prove themselves to their colleagues because they don't have established relationships.

  5. When cameras were turned off, there was not a reduction in engagement or talking during meetings. Instead, there was a reduction in engagement and talking during virtual meetings when employees were feeling fatigued. The researchers concluded that employees should have more autonomy over whether their cameras are turned off or on.

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