“Zoom Fatigue”? It’s real, says NTU Singapore

Zoom Fatigue

TL;DR –  Zoom fatigue is more real and common than you think. 

Ever feel pressured to turn on your camera? Chances are, you’re not alone. In a research conducted by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) in December 2020, the “Zoom Fatigue” phenomenon which many workers have voiced that they have experienced has been confirmed by researchers.

“Mirror Anxiety”

Researchers at NTU has confirmed that more use of videoconferencing applications have indeed led to more fatigue. Curiously, one part of the problem is the fact that we’re seeing ourselves on the screen.

Sometimes, it’s not just one videoconference per day — it can go up to three and four times per day ranging from one to two hours.

The research comprised of data from 1,145 workers in Singapore who are employed full-time and utilizes videoconferencing applications frequently. They spend about three days working from home and about nine hours working per day.

No, it’s not age.

When someone tires more easily, it’s normal to associate it with one’s body ageing. But no, NTU researchers found that the number of hours worked, income levels and age had weaker associations with video-conferencing fatigue.

Earlier research has shown that videoconferencing fatigue is more common for women due to the pressures and anxieties of looking presentable in front of the screen, which is worsened by societal norms and expectations about a woman’s appearance. NTU researchers found that this was less prevalent in Singapore as compared to Western countries.

Eyes off me, please.

Who’s the real culprit — eye contact. Videoconferencing has been proved to dramatically increase the amount of eye contact which pressurizes workers and exacerbates their social anxiety. Although meeting participants are not technically looking at you but at their screens, they appear to be making eye contact with you even if they are not speaking.

How can we solve/alleviate this?

With another wave of Covid-19 Omicron cases in Singapore, sometimes our colleagues must absent themselves from the office due to their need to isolate — and we have to end up using videoconferencing applications again instead of physical meetings.

If you’re a team leader or the manager, or the supervisor setting the agenda of the virtual meeting, it would help tremendously, if you keep a close watch on the time and not let the meeting drag for too long.

You can also give your team members options to not turn on their camera during meetings, to make meetings less tiring.

Come on, go ahead and share this article with your employer or your leader. (Winks)

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About Author

A young Singaporean concerned about issues workers face. As humans, we spend a third of our lives sleeping and recharging, and another third for our personal life, and the last third at work (based on a 24-hr distribution). That's why we should pay attention to issues surrounding work.