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Study: Exploring Increased Pandemic-related Videoconferencing Fatigue

According to a study conducted by researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), increased use of videoconferencing platforms during the COVID19 pandemic contributed to a higher level of fatigue.

The study’s lead author, Asst Prof Li, hoped that the findings would spur further research into the extent to which the environment for human communication can function as a social determinant of health and that it would encourage different stakeholders, such as policymakers, technology developers, community leaders, corporate leaders, and users, to collaborate to practically address the problems of videoconferencing fatigue.

According to the researchers, their goal is to highlight how current implementations of such technologies can be exhausting for employees and how businesses can improve and optimise their use by their workforce.

We were motivated to conduct our study after hearing of increasing reports of fatigue from the use of videoconferencing applications during the pandemic. We found that there was a clear relationship between the increased use of videoconferencing and fatigue in Singaporean workers. Our findings are even more relevant in today’s context, as the use of videoconferencing tools is here to stay, due to flexible work arrangements being a continuing trend.

– Benjamin Li, Assistant Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information

Videoconferencing significantly increases the amount of eye contact in a typical meeting, causing stress and social anxiety in employees. Allowing speakers or meeting participants to constantly see themselves during video chats causes fatigue, according to the team, because it encourages ‘mirror anxiety,’ which refers to a feeling of self-consciousness caused by the self-view in video conferences that turns into a pervasive reflection during social interactions.

The study investigated further the relationship between internet connectivity quality and videoconferencing tiredness. When video conferencing usage was minimal, a dependable internet connection was associated with decreased videoconferencing tiredness. However, at higher levels of videoconferencing usage, researchers found that a dependable Internet connection did not prevent videoconferencing tiredness.

The frequency of videoconferencing use raises symptoms of videoconferencing tiredness by around 50 per cent, according to the findings of the study. This link is compounded by an individual’s growing pleasure with the internet in terms of reliability, coverage, speed, and cost. On the other hand, with user satisfaction with the Internet, the frequency of videoconferencing causes a 10 per cent increase in user tiredness.

According to the findings of researchers, everyone has experienced frustration when online media experiences such as watching YouTube or Netflix are interrupted by a poor internet connection. The video slows and the image quality deteriorates, resulting in an unpleasant viewing experience. It may be the same with videoconferences, if not more so, as essential information may be lost due to a choppy connection, resulting in increased aggravation and exhaustion.

When there are only a few videoconferences to attend, a dependable internet connection appears to be less frustrating. The results indicate that when consumers are overloaded with videoconferences, not even a high-quality Internet connection can assist.

The findings were derived from an analysis of a survey of 1,145 Singapore residents in full-time employment who indicated that they frequently use videoconferencing apps. Participants in the survey had to be at least 21 years old, and their demographics reflected Singapore’s multi-racial society. Respondents reported working from home three days per week for an average of nine hours per weekday.

Future research will investigate how a person’s living and working environment affects videoconferencing fatigue and other mental well-being measures. They also hope to repeat the study to see if there are any differences in videoconferencing fatigue reported by men and women.

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