In the modern world, more people than ever can work from home. As part of this process, more and more companies are utilizing video calls to communicate with colleagues and hold meetings. This has led to a phenomenon called video call fatigue.
The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported in May 2020, that approaching 50% of adults in employment were working from home. Others are reporting similar statistics worldwide.
This change is a direct result of the social distancing measures that governments have introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, some people argue that it paves the way for even more home working in the future. Companies that may not have facilitated working from home before have had to make it work and may keep it going forward.
But with home working comes video calls, and the potential for video call fatigue.
WHAT IS VIDEO CALL FATIGUE?
With more and more people utilizing video calls as their main method of keeping in touch, a phenomenon known as video call fatigue has become more widespread.
In some instances, people are finding that they are feeling more exhausted when working from home than they would when working in the office. This exhaustion is even the case after factoring in a long commute.
There are several ways that video calls can affect our mental health, and the fatigue they cause is one that many people may struggle with.
WHAT CAUSES VIDEO CALL FATIGUE?
Several psychological occurrences that are not present in a person’s typical day-to-day work life affect video call fatigue.
Thanks to video calls and the psychology behind them, these psychological occurrences cause what people have now nicknamed ‘Zoom fatigue.’ Zoom fatigue takes its name from the popular video calling applications.
In person, when two or more people are having a conversation, eye contact is made.
On a video call, people also want to look into the eyes of the person they are speaking with. However, the camera is not located in the same place as the person they are talking to.
This computer hardware fact means that people will always look like they are looking elsewhere, despite their best attempts at making eye contact.
This lack of eye contact can lead to people feeling like they are not being listened to, causing frustration with their peers.
Back in 2,000, researchers called this phenomenon gaze awareness.
In a meeting in the office, a person may doodle; they may look out of the window or look around the room. These things may be slightly rude normally but might appear even ruder in a video call scenario.
In reality, it can also be easier to lose focus on a video call than it is to lose focus in a real-life meeting.
A person may continue to send emails while on a video call. They may try to complete other work tasks at the same time, which could cause them to not pay attention to the video call.
To be able to give the video call a person’s full attention, they must work harder, which may cause greater fatigue.
There are also many technical problems that can occur through the use of video calls that would not be present in real life meetings.
Internet speed can be interrupted or slow, causing lag. This means that a person may end up frozen on the screen or unable to be heard by others.
This transmission delay can cause frustration and make the conversation impossible to continue. When a person has to repeat themselves, it can be tiring.
In a video call, more so than a face-to-face conversation, people are very aware that others are watching them.
This self-awareness can lead to people feeling as if they have to portray themselves in a certain way that is not the case in meetings in the office.
Keeping up a high level of performance on screen can be tiring and lead to video call fatigue.
Furthermore, usually on a video call, a person can see themselves in a little box in the corner of their screen. This may make them self-conscious and take their attention away from the meeting.
What else is going on in a person’s home while they are on a video call may also make them self-conscious.
An example of this might be children playing or being noisy in the background.
Even when video calls are for connecting with friends and family, spending even more time in front of a screen can feel like the last thing someone wants to do.
While in the office, a person may get up and take time away from the screen. However, at home they may feel like they are not as productive so take fewer breaks from their computer screen.
Adding extra screen time for leisure purposes into the mix can contribute to tiredness and irritability.
EFFECTS OF VIDEO CALL FATIGUE
Video call fatigue can make otherwise content people anxious and may increase anxiety levels in those already experiencing such feelings.
Video call fatigue can cause people to feel overwhelmed when they would not usually, leading to increased tiredness and even exhaustion.