The term “Zoom fatigue” became a common phrase during the COVID-19 pandemic – it refers to feeling exhausted after attending numerous virtual meetings. Are there ways in which managers can combat Zoom fatigue to promote a more engaged workforce? New research (Shockley et al., 2021) examines why managers should take action to prevent Zoom fatigue.
CAMERA USE AND FATIGUE
Researchers conducted a field experiment at a large US healthcare company. Participants consisted of 103 employees who worked in a variety of jobs within the company. Participants were assigned to one of two conditions: in the first condition, employees were asked to keep their cameras off for virtual meetings, and in the second condition, employees were asked to keep their cameras on for virtual meetings. At the end of the two-week mark of the study, participants switched conditions to either have their camera on or off. Employees in both conditions were surveyed daily over the course of four work weeks.
Results indicated that when employees had their cameras on, they were more likely to feel fatigued, which subsequently contributed to decreased work engagement and the feeling that employees had less of a voice in meetings. Additionally, the researchers found that these effects were stronger for two groups of employees: women and organizational newcomers.
The researchers note four major takeaways from the study: (a) using a camera in virtual meetings is fatiguing, (b) this effect is not due to the time spent in meetings or the number of virtual meetings, as the researchers controlled for these factors, (c) fatigue has detrimental effects on employee voice and engagement, and (d) organizational newcomers and women are even more fatigued by the use of cameras in virtual meetings. Due to the findings of this study, organizations may want to consider making camera-use optional when appropriate.
Shockley, K. M., Gabriel, A. S., Robertson, D., Rosen, C. C., Chawla, N., Ganster, M. L., & Ezerins, M. E. (2021). The fatiguing effects of camera use in virtual meetings: A within-person field experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(8), 1137-1155.