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Cameras on or Off? The Effects of Zoom Fatigue

Now that most of us have settled into work-from-home or hybrid arrangements, weve all felt it at least a handful of timesZoom fatigue.

Published Thu Oct 28 2021

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Now that most of us have settled into work-from-home or hybrid arrangements, we’ve all felt it at least a handful of times—Zoom fatigue. Video conference calls have come to replace face-to-face meetings, and some organizations are doing a better job than others of keeping meetings manageable. Regardless of the care taken, though, most employees have felt overwhelmed by these meetings. But why? Some studies have indicated that the status of your camera—specifically whether it’s on or off—contributes greatly to the level of fatigue these virtual meetings create. One recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed an interesting result. The time spent in meetings had little to do with the level of fatigue an employee felt. Far more impactful were “cameras always on” policies. This fatigue also negatively interacted with both productivity and engagement during meetings, which might seem counterintuitive to those who strongly feel that cameras should remain on. It makes sense that having everyone seen and heard is the best analog to in-person meetings, but it has the opposite effect. One reason for this might be self-presentation costs. When we’re forced to look at ourselves as we participate in meetings, we’re far more aware of how we look, act, and sound than if we were simply having an in-person conversation with a co-worker. The results seem to be clear—if you want more productive meetings, let employees present how they’re most comfortable.

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