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Got 'Zoom Fatigue'? Taking Breaks From the Camera Can Help
  • Cara Murez
  • Posted September 2, 2021

Got 'Zoom Fatigue'? Taking Breaks From the Camera Can Help

If you feel exhausted after a day filled with online meetings, well, you are not imagining it.

A new study found that the pressure of having the camera on for a long time is draining. This so-called "Zoom fatigue" is even worse if you're a woman or a new employee.

"There's always this assumption that if you have your camera on during meetings, you are going to be more engaged," said Allison Gabriel, the McClelland Professor of Management and Organizations and University Distinguished Scholar in the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management.

"But there's also a lot of self-presentation pressure associated with being on camera," she said in a university news release. "Having a professional background and looking ready, or keeping children out of the room are among some of the pressures."

The researchers involved 103 participants, with 1,400 observations, in the four-week study.

"When people had cameras on or were told to keep cameras on, they reported more fatigue than their non-camera-using counterparts," Gabriel said. "And that fatigue correlated to less voice and less engagement during meetings. So, in reality, those who had cameras on were potentially participating less than those not using cameras. This counters the conventional wisdom that cameras are required to be engaged in virtual meetings."

Women and new employees likely had added self-presentation pressures, the researchers found, because of potentially having more vulnerability in terms of their social position in the workplace.

"Women often feel the pressure to be effortlessly perfect or have a greater likelihood of child care interruptions, and newer employees feel like they must be on camera and participate in order to show productiveness," Gabriel said.

She suggested that employees should have the freedom to choose whether or not to use their cameras, without assumptions being made about distractedness or productivity.

"At the end of the day, we want employees to feel autonomous and supported at work in order to be at their best. Having autonomy over using the camera is another step in that direction," Gabriel said.

The findings were published in the August issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

More information

Stanford University offers tips for dealing with Zoom meeting fatigue.

SOURCE: University of Arizona, news release, Aug. 30, 2021

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