The following article, Virtual Meetings Leave Participants Bored And Sleepy, Study Finds, was first published on Flag And Cross.
<img src="https://storage.googleapis.com/prod-zenger-storage/image/148bc51f-8e7f-44aa-ae25-fe1a81f4988a.jpg" alt="If you find yourself nodding off during yet another Zoom meeting it is because the format leaves you bored, a new study reveals. PHOTO BY ARTEM PODREZ/PEXELS “>
If you find yourself nodding off during yet another Zoom meeting it is because the format leaves you bored, a new study reveals.
It was previously thought that sleepiness in virtual meetings was down to fatigue caused by stress and mental overload.
But the latest research from Aalto University in Finland shows the opposite.
The team concluded that face-to-face meetings have vastly more stimuli to keep us engaged and we switch off far quicker in virtual ones.
Assistant Professor Niina Nurmi, who led the study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, said: “I expected to find that people get stressed in remote meetings.
“But the result was the opposite – especially those who were not engaged in their work quickly became drowsy during remote meetings.
“It’s easier to maintain focus in face-to-face meetings than virtual ones, as the latter have limited cognitive cues and sensory input.”
Researchers measured heart rate variability during both types of meetings, examining how fatigue was experienced among 44 knowledge workers across nearly 400 meetings.
They then collaborated with researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, where stress and recovery are studied using heart rate monitors.
It was discovered that sleepiness during virtual meetings may be a result of mental underload and boredom.
This is despite earlier studies that previously suggested fatigue from virtual meetings stems from mental overload or stress.
Nurmi added: “We combined physiological methods with ethnographic research.
“We shadowed each subject for two workdays, recording all events with time stamps, to find out the sources of human physiological responses.”
The study also included a questionnaire to identify people’s general attitudes and work engagement.
It was found that the format of a meeting had little impact on people who were highly engaged with their work and were able to stay active during virtual meetings.
On the other hand, workers with lower engagement found virtual meetings very tiring.
Nurmi added: “Especially when cameras are off, the participant is left under-stimulated and may start to compensate by multitasking.”
Although an appropriate level of stimulation is generally beneficial for the brain, multitasking during virtual meetings is problematic.
Only highly automated tasks, such as walking, can be properly carried out during a virtual meeting.
Nurmi said: “Walking and other automated activities can boost your energy levels and help you to concentrate on the meeting.
“But if you’re trying to focus on two things that require cognitive attention
simultaneously, you can’t hear if something important is happening in the meeting.
“Alternatively, you have to constantly switch between tasks. It’s really taxing for the brain.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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