Virtual Meetings Leave Participants More Fatigued Than In-Person Gatherings, Finnish Study Reveals

Virtual Meetings Leave Workers More Fatigued Than In-Person Meetings, Finnish Study Reveals
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In a Finnish study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, researchers measured the fatigue of 44 office workers during 382 meetings – 118 held virtually and 264 held face-to-face.

Using wearable heart rate monitors and self-reports, the researchers assessed two types of fatigue: active fatigue characterized by stress arousal, and passive fatigue manifesting as drowsiness.

Many believe that virtual meetings, such as video or phone conferences, are not as exhausting as in-person meetings. However, a new study suggests otherwise.

The researchers discovered that people often feel more tired after virtual meetings. They experience drowsiness and a slower heart rate, indicating signs of passivity and fatigue. So, it appears that these meetings do indeed leave participants feeling quite drained and lethargic.

Active fatigue, on the other hand, was not observed. This means that participants still have enough energy after the meetings to focus and be active, but they feel sluggish and worn out.

Lead author Niina Nurmi explained, “This challenges the assumption that fatigue from virtual meetings primarily manifests as exhaustion due to overload and suggests that participating in virtual meetings can indeed lead to drowsiness due to sensory overload.”

The researchers speculate that the monotony of virtual interactions with limited movement and reduced engagement can lead to increased fatigue and reduced alertness. Over time, attempts to compensate for fatigue through mental effort and staying focused can result in a state of passive disinterest.

The team also examined how post-virtual meeting fatigue affected cognitive performance. They tested abilities like mental flexibility by having participants switch tasks. The results were clear: increased passive fatigue after virtual meetings led to more errors and poorer performance in task-switching tests.

Remedies are available

According to the researchers, passive fatigue can be reduced. Short, stimulating activities during meetings can help with this. Active fatigue arises from excessive workloads, and in this case, leaders should ensure that employees have enough breaks between demanding meetings. This can help prevent fatigue and overload.

Since virtual meetings are becoming the norm for many companies, further research is needed to confirm these findings, according to the researchers.

For more information on communication, you can find additional resources in our Career Guide.

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Carl Woodrow
A seasoned tech enthusiast and writer, Carl delves deep into emerging technologies, offering insightful analysis and reviews on the latest gadgets and trends.