It’s the COVID-19 era. While some businesses and public spaces are reopening as vaccination rates increase, many events — from book club meetings to telehealth appointments to weekly staffers (for the many still working remotely) — are still happening virtually. And with the trajectory of the global pandemic far from certain, given the spread of variants like delta and omicron, it seems likely they will continue that way for some time.
In other words, it’s likely there are still a lot of video calls in your future.
“We’re social beings. We were created to live in a society, and so we thrive on the social connectedness,” says Anna S. Ord, PsyD, dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. These platforms allowed us to connect for business and pleasure when it was not safe to do so in person, and will continue to do so in cases where people prefer the convenience or flexibility of remote meetings.
It’s likely that, without Zoom and other face-to-face video-conferencing platforms, the social isolation of lockdown and stay-at-home orders early in the pandemic would have taken an even greater toll on our mental health, she adds.
But by now we all know that on the other hand, back-to-back-to-back video calls and meetings (even when they’re for fun) can be exhausting. The term “Zoom fatigue” saw a notable spike in Google search volume in April 2020, and then again in March 2021, according to Google Trends.
In a study published in August 2021 in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers sought to answer the camera-on-or-off question by observing 103 employees during a total of 1,408 meetings to evaluate fatigue and engagement. They concluded that having cameras on did indeed increase employee fatigue during the meetings and the next day.
Researchers suggested in the paper that the extra fatigue with camera use may be linked to pressure to “self-present” (that is, to be seen favorably and come across positively) while on camera. They also noted that women and newer employees were more likely to feel this pressure than men and more established employees.
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