In an era where coronavirus reigns supreme, it is a word that has entered our daily lives and the lexicon while also being a constant companion during the lockdown. That word is "Zoom."
But have we been overexposed to it? Are we now suffering from Zoom fatigue? According to research, it seems that way. Not only is Zoom making us less productive, but it's blurring our work and personal lives, distracting us, and exhausting us.
Paul Levy, senior researcher in Innovation Management at the University of Brighton, reflects on how the communication platform burning us out.
Sputnik: Is Zooming a bad thing?
Paul Levy: What we are getting is lots of stories about Zoom, that it's burning people out. And of course, Zoom has become a noun. And it's a brand. But what we mean is video calls and all kinds of platforms really. And I think people are aware a bit like we knew about TV tiredness. If we're Zooming all day, it gets diminishing returns, some of the evidence that's been there with TV is kind of showing too, which is, that as we get more tired, we become less productive, we tend to remember less. And so if that's in a work context, it becomes a kind of false economy to be meeting constantly on that platform.
Sputnik: What is the psychological impact of spending hours and hours on video calling platforms?
Paul Levy: Well, it's not definitive, and one of the first studies from Stanford came out recently, and they're giving the causes of what Zoom tiredness is and what to do about it. One of the recommendations is to go on Zoom less, particularly in a work context, and maybe find other ways of getting work done. Because, and this is where, you know, it's not guaranteed science at the moment. But there are lots of indications, we kind of know that when we get tired, we tend to be less efficient, less productive. So if the purpose of those meetings is to agree tasks to get things done, and people come off those meetings, not sure they've remembered everything, and they're not so motivated, then what may happen is you get something called message replication where people start phoning their bosses or doing further Zoom to confirm stuff, and you end up having message replication. And that is crazy. It means that for every few hours of zooming, over time, we end up getting less and less benefit from it in terms of businesses and needing to recover from lockdown in terms of the bottom line.
Sputnik: Are experts correct to call for fewer online meetings?
Paul Levy: Less might be more. And that was always the case with meetings, meetings, meetings anyway. And so I found myself in the university context being in meetings that can last for an hour. And actually, you can sense the energy dropping. And so some other research that's around and that's what I've been talking about in my recent kind of writing about this is that we also know that your imagination tends to be stimulated more by radio, and there used to be a saying, I prefer radio because the pictures are a lot better. And the imagination has a measurable link to motivation. So you could just follow that idea through. And what that means practically is it could be better to have a very short Zoom meeting where we meet each other and there's a nice social element to it, but then actually, to say right now we need to talk about this or that and get on the phone and plan and have audio conferences alongside zoom. So it's not either-or, but if the evidence is there, that audio can actually make us more motivated because it's less complicated because we're not having that kind of difficulty of sometimes seeing us looking back and seeing about five or six faces. We assume on phone calls that people are listening to us. It's easier. We tend to be more relaxed and we tend to get more done.
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