Why ‘video call fatigue’ might be making you tired during lockdown – and how to beat it

video calls

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Harry Kretchmer, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Some video conferencing users are complaining of exhaustion after continual online meetings.
  • Alongside Skype, Houseparty and Microsoft Teams, virtual meetings platform Zoom has boomed during the pandemic, growing from 10 million daily meeting participants in December to more than 200 million in March.
  • Psychologists say “video call fatigue” could be due to factors including excessive self-awareness and over-scheduling.

Video conferencing software has been a runaway success during the coronavirus pandemic, topping download charts, becoming the lynchpin of business communication, and being hailed as the defining technology of the lockdown.

 

But a new phenomenon is emerging alongside this rise – “video call fatigue”.

It describes the feeling of being worn out by endless virtual meetings, chats and quizzes, borne witness to by widespread complaints on social media. And academics say the reasons behind it include having to perform for the camera and missing real people.

But wellness experts say video chats can have great benefits, too, helping people stay connected in isolation.

technology tech video lockdown call zoom skype ft facetime bored tired bothered Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly
The popularity of Zoom has soared during the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Prioridata/Statista

Mental overload

So why are some people finding video conferencing so tiring?

Psychologist Dr Linda Kaye from the UK’s Edge Hill University says in large part it is because we see ourselves on screen, and naturally want to present a good image to friends and colleagues.

“It’s likely that this is enhancing our self-awareness to a greater level than usual, and therefore resulting in us making additional self-presentational efforts than in face-to-face interactions in the real world,” she explains.

“And then, of course, it could simply be a volume issue. We may be over-scheduling ourselves simply based on the fact we have more time available.”

Gianpiero Petriglieri, an expert on workplace learning at INSEAD business school, tells the BBC that another key factor is the extra effort needed to process non-verbal cues such as body language.

“Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally.”

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Ill at ease

Another factor explored by researchers at University College London is gaze duration. While people are happy to stare at people they feel comfortable with for longer periods, gazes of more than 3 seconds can feel uncomfortable in less relaxed situations.

The BBC cites a German study published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies that finds speech transmission delays of little over a second can cause participants to perceive those on the video call as “less attentive, extraverted and conscientious”.

There is also the problem, Gianpiero Petriglieri explains, of “self-complexity”. In simple terms, human beings like variety, but now many aspects of our lives are coming together in one place – video calls.

technology tech video lockdown call zoom skype ft facetime bored tired bothered Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly
Coronavirus has been tough for many Americans.
Image: Gallup

The bigger picture

The growing frustration with video conferencing may also be related to the wider well-being challenge the lockdown is posing.

A recent survey by US pollster Gallup found almost 60% of Americans feel worried – up 20% on last summer – while 45% told the Kaiser Family Foundation the coronavirus crisis was harming their mental health.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to reduce video chat fatigue.

  • Build in breaks
  • Keep meetings shorter
  • Reduce on-screen stimuli – try hiding yourself from view.
  • Don’t feel you have to attend virtual social gatherings with colleagues.
  • Switch to a phone call or email if appropriate.

The benefits of face-to-face

But many are singing the praises of video chats.

Yale Professor Laurie Santos – whose popular lessons on wellness have made her an influential voice on mental health issues during the pandemic – says face-to-face communication can help with lockdown isolation.

“The research suggests that the act of hanging out with folks in real time – in other words, things like Zoom or FaceTime – can be a really powerful way to connect with people.

“You see their facial expressions, hear the emotion in their voice, you’re really able to connect with them.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

EU-Turkey relations are at a historic low point, say MEPs

Afghans entitled to live ‘free from fear, intimidation’, says UN chief, condemning suicide attacks

WHO and IFMSA as transcendent pillars for world improvement

Horse meat runs faster than authorities…

EU-Turkey relations are at a historic low point, say MEPs

Modern society has reached its limits. Society 5.0 will liberate us

China in My Suburbs

Chinese economy to raise speed and help the world grow

EU strengthens cooperation with Ethiopia

The Liquefaction of Healthcare Services: Consequences and Possible Solutions

Trade barriers: EU removes record number in response to surge in protectionism

How can we produce enough protein to feed 10 billion people?

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

Worth going ‘extra mile’ for a new Syrian constitution, UN envoy urges

‘Never give up’: UN chief urges all who serve, marking UN Day

My disability, my identity

EU survey confirms citizens’ call for EU to have more powers to tackle pandemic

EU Trust Fund for Africa: new migration-related actions to protect vulnerable people and foster resilience of host communities in North of Africa

What are food crises and how many people are affected by them?

UN agriculture agency digs in to help forests and farms build resilience to climate change

1 in 5 deaths globally caused by fossil fuel pollution, a new study reveals

Galileo funding: A ‘small’ difference of €700 million

The glimmers of hope in the latest dire climate report

Germany hides its own banks’ problems

10 things you – and your government – should know about competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Amazon: our green is turning to ashes

UN chief welcomes announcement by Emir of Qatar to allocate $50 million to support Syrian refugees, displaced persons

Do we really understand the value of independent journalism?

Access to healthcare is not enough – high quality care has to be the target

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

EU trade agreements deliver on growth and jobs, support sustainable development

Fresh airstrikes kill dozens in conflict-ravaged Syria

The three US financial war fleets

Technology can help us save the planet. But more than anything, we must learn to value nature

Here’s how the aviation sector is stopping cyberattacks from getting off the ground

“A divided Europe is not in China’s interests”, Ambassador Zhang of the Chinese Mission to EU welcomes Brussels

Water pollution is killing millions of Indians. Here’s how technology and reliable data can change that

De-escalate now, to steer Yemen off ‘precarious path’, UN Security Council hears

Human Rights: breaches in Cambodia, Uganda and Myanmar

Being blinded by labels stops social change. Art helps us see a better future

These will be the main cybersecurity trends in 2020

A Sting Exclusive: “Without climate, forget about peace!”, Swedish MEP Bodil Valero cautions from Brussels

London is becoming the world’s first National Park City

SMEs and micro firms sinking together with south Eurozone

Peacekeeping: A ‘great opportunity’ to develop professionally and personally

Drones, disinfectant, distancing – Europe’s beaches open up

New seat projections for the next European Parliament EU28

Saudi Arabia expresses ‘regret and pain’ over Khashoggi killing, during UN rights review

Nearly four million North Koreans in urgent need, as food production slumps by almost 10 per cent

UN rights chief calls for international inquiry into Kashmir violations

COVID-19 Update: Amidst coronavirus bleeding, Trump’s administration is desperately looking for scapegoats

Youth Guarantee putting young people in jobs

Digital Single Market: New EU rules for online subscription services

How technology is leading us to new climate change solutions

How can impact investors balance the green energy equation?

The race for Driverless vehicles: where is the industry heading?

Commission welcomes political agreement on InvestEU

UN makes ‘declaration of digital interdependence’, with release of tech report

MEPs agree on new rules to tax digital companies’ revenues

Asian and Pacific economies: decreases in tax revenue highlight need to broaden tax bases

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s