Canadian News Apr 22, 2021 5:45 PM EST

Survey finds strong link between younger professionals and 'Zoom fatigue,' anxiety

The results of a survey released Thursday have found that younger professionals are more likely to experience "zoom fatigue" and anxiety with the increase of video meetings during the pandemic.

Survey finds strong link between younger professionals and 'Zoom fatigue,' anxiety
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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The results of a survey released Thursday have found that younger professionals are more likely to experience "zoom fatigue" and anxiety with the increase of video meetings during the pandemic.

The survey, conducted by the Canadian virtual consulting and project management company Virtira, released the findings of its survey Thursday in a report titled The Webcam Survey - Exhausted or Engaged.

With the increased use of Zoom and similar companies webcam conference calls over the pandemic, the report found that 64 percent of those aged 18 to 24 reported feeling "high exhaustion," commenting on feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment over backgrounds and disruptions, and being distracted by other's movements on screen. This feeling diminishes as you look at older age groups.

Many respondents reported that next to the meeting leader deciding to have webcams on (28 percent of respondents), 26 percent of respondents felt peer pressured into putting their camera on because the others had done so as well. 61 percent said that webcams were on 100 percent of the meeting.

One woman wrote that at first the webcam meetings were nice, being able to see other coworkers faces brought a sense of community, but that after a year of it, it has gotten exhausting.

"My boss and the others at my work prefer that everyone be on camera during a meeting in order to see everyone and get a sense of community. At first, I was excited to see people, but as we go on nearly a YEAR of doing this, it does tend to get exhausting. It's harder to multitask when you know you're on camera."

Virtira also reported that 43 percent of respondents stated that being on camera made them more productive within those meetings, but on the other end of that, 66 percent reported difficulties being able to multitask knowing that they were on camera. Many managers reported using the cameras to prevent this multitasking, but are now taking up employees' time with more meetings that may not be entirely productive in the long run.

The number of meetings people have during a week have increased as well. One survey-taker said that what used to be drop-in meetings now are all held over zoom meetings. 30 percent of respondents stated spending 2-3 hours on webcams per day. 63 percent said that the number of meetings had increased greatly since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Before the pandemic, we might have quick meetings here or there, but not like "official sit-down meetings". We would walk into each other's offices and have a quick chat. Now, most of those meetings have to happen either over email or often over a zoom meeting. So, the number of meetings has significantly increased because we can't just have a quick chat in an office," she stated.

In response to these findings, Virtira recommended using video meetings in smaller settings, and addressing those that don't want to be on camera to find a middle ground. They also suggested investing in good meeting notes so those that aren't entirely necessary to attend that meeting can catch up afterwards. Virtira indicated that large screens of talking head meetings have no indication of being more advantageous over audio calls and may instead promote distraction and anxiety among attendants.

Virtira surveyed more than 1,700 employees, managers, and executives from a broad range of professions from January 28, 2021, to February 8, 2021. They also received updates from more than 500 participants and analyzed over 1,000 comments.


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