What Stanford researchers don’t know: You can meet smarter to reduce video fatigue
Factors contributing to video fatigue
Meeting fatigue is real. And, in the era of COVID, “meeting” almost certainly means video conferencing. Stanford University researchers thought the problem was pervasive enough that they conducted a study to examine why too much video conferencing can exhaust the mind and body in what they say is commonly known as “Zoom fatigue” – although the researchers indicated this applies to all videoconferencing platforms. They arrived at four key factors that contribute to fatigue and even devised a way to measure it with the “Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue” (ZEF) scale:
1) Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense
2) Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing
3) Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility
4) Higher cognitive load is much higher in video chats
While researchers gave some useful tips to counteract these problems, they are only short-term fixes to a problem that is endemic to the current era.
The answer is to meet smarter so you can meet less
Some companies, including at Cisco where I work, are implementing meeting-free days to minimize burn-out. But giving people a break from meetings and then going right back to Zoom fatigue the next day is also not the long-term answer.
The answer is using video conferencing technology to let people meet smarter so they can have fewer meetings on a REGULAR basis.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but over the past year, Webex has been working on ways to help people spend less time in meetings yet be more productive. Some of these innovations include:
- Using an in-meeting digital assistant to capture transcripts, notes and action items, so you can fully focus in the meeting and get more done
- Automated post-meeting follow-up enables easy distribution of notes and tracking action items, which may negate the need to have additional meetings to move work forward
- Advanced messaging and team collaboration features let you continue work projects before, during and after the meeting, so much of it can be done asynchronously
- Round table & Quick Sync meeting templates give everyone a dedicated speaking slot and time allocation, so no one can hog the discussion which reduces time sink
- Real-time translation helps to break down language barriers and aids understanding, so fewer meetings are required for additional clarification
My Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue score is very low
Out of curiosity, I took the ZEF survey just to see how I would score. And not surprisingly, it was very low: I scored in the 8th percentile in Zoom fatigue, which means about 92% of people have more fatigue after videoconferencing than I do. I attribute that to three things:
- My comfort with video having worked in the industry for more than 10 years
- The intelligence in Webex which allows me to meet smarter on video and, thus, have fewer meetings
- Working on a Webex Desk device, an all-in-one personal collaboration system that is comfortable to work on and contributes to less visual and physical fatigue
My score on the ZEF scale:
Feb 7, 2023 — Andrew Pearson