In March 2020, when we were sent to work from home, large amounts of employees experienced increased video fatigue. Many realized that collaborating on video was not the same as it was in the office.
Stanford University conducted one of the first-ever studies on video meeting fatigue and found four primary causes:
- Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense.
- Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing.
- Video chats drastically reduce our usual mobility.
- The cognitive load is much higher in video chats.
On this last point, two of the primary contributors to a higher cognitive load are poor-quality video and decreased ability to accurately interpret body language. When we encounter pixelized faces of different sizes and varying degrees of lighting, we’re forced to readjust our brain every time we look from one face to the next. Together, these factors add up to a collaboration experience that, with poor-quality video, can be mentally taxing and demotivating.
Our recent Hybrid Ways of Working 2021 Global Report backs up Stanford’s research, showing that solving video meeting fatigue is a top technology concern that knowledge workers want to be addressed in the future of hybrid working.
Hybrid collaboration presents new challenges
While some have been eager to get back to in-person collaboration, others believed that the benefits of remote working – no commute, more time with family and friends, more flexibility – outweighed any drawbacks. And because of this, a new model of working has emerged, hybrid work, where people will split their time working between multiple locations.
In hybrid work, meetings will almost always have some participants physically together in a meeting room, while others will be joining in remotely. This distributed presence across physical and virtual spaces creates another level of cognitive complexity and a whole new set of challenges for IT decision makers, managers, and organizations to overcome.
The benefits of video are clear
While there may be challenges related to video meetings, the data shows that it’s worth trying to overcome them. One BlueJeans study found that 9 in 10 business decision makers believe that video conferencing makes meetings more efficient, improves clarity, and helps them understand the discussion. Similarly, in a joint study from Zoom and Forbes Insights, 62% of executives agreed that when compared to audio-only meetings, video conferencing significantly improves the quality of communication.
Speaking on the topic of meeting fatigue, Jeff Smith, Zoom’s Head of Zoom Rooms, told us that “raising the bar on quality is one of the easiest ways to reduce the level of video or meeting fatigue. The amount of cognitive effort we have in interacting with something like that is huge and it makes it very difficult to have a worthwhile conversation. Instead, everything becomes much more transactional.” In hybrid working, it’s clear that high-quality video will be a key driver of productivity and connection in organizations.
Increasing employee well-being with video in hybrid work
There are major opportunities for organizations to capitalize on the transition to hybrid working, video being perhaps one of the most crucial. In a world where 9 in 10 employees say that hybrid working will maintain or increase their personal motivation (89%), feeling of recognition (88%), and their sense of trust in their team (89%), organizations can’t risk providing a sub-par collaboration experience. Getting hybrid right with high-quality video will be a key component of employee satisfaction and well-being.