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Feeling ‘Zoom fatigue’? Experts have an explanation

Published: Mar. 27, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - You may be feeling “Zoom fatigue” after a year of working or learning from home. You’re not alone, and, now, researchers have an explanation.

A paper published by Stanford researchers offers several reasons why videoconferencing platforms, not just Zoom, are so draining.

“The study adds what people are learning, observing and puts some actual research behind it,” Steve Noll, a marketing professor at Madison College, said. “We can actually say, ‘There really is such thing as Zoom fatigue.’”

First, researchers say it’s intense for the speaker to get eye contact from so many people close up. Experts suggest going out of full screen mode and backing away from the monitor.

Researchers also believe it’s stressful when the speaker can see themselves talking. It’s unnatural, and speakers can become more critical of themselves. “People are saying, ‘That’s what I look like? They’re turning to [cosmetic] surgeons, and makeup sales have gone up,” Noll said.

To this problem, a solution could be to change settings and hide the “self-view” monitor.

Noll agreed, videoconferencing also limits people from seeing head nods and other gestures that are key to communication.

“Without that nonverbal feedback, you have this tendency to go back and keep repeating the same thing over and over again to make sure people get it,” he said. “It drains people listening to you because they’re like, ‘We got it the first time, why don’t you move on?’”

Simultaneously, he said the speaker can be drained, and at the end of the day can feel the toll in their throat and the rest of their body.

Noll said many industries have been “permanently altered” due to the pandemic and he predicts videoconferencing likely won’t disappear.

To prevent and recover from any fatigue, Noll suggested people observe where and how their bodies have been affected, while additionally creating boundaries while working from home.

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