Today's Update: Tuesday, May 12

May 12, 2020

Dear Student Life Team,

It seems like overnight “Zoom” went from being a car maker’s slogan to a major factor in our lives. I’m on Zoom for meetings every day, often for hours at a time back to back to back.  

While Zoom and other video conferencing platforms change the nature of working remotely, it also impacts us in other ways. So just as rapidly as Zoom entered our vocabulary, so too has the phrase “Zoom Fatigue.”  

I’ve noticed that I’m more worn out after Zoom meetings than I used to be for in-person meetings. It turns out there are scientific reasons for that. Experts point out that you have to concentrate more in a video meeting. Reading facial cues and the nuances of speech are more difficult in that setting. You wouldn’t think the delay of 1.2 seconds would have much of an impact, but a 2014 study in Germany found it made people perceive the person speaking as less friendly or focused.  

Then there is the matter of being on camera at all times. Clemson University associate professor Marissa Shuffler studies workplace wellbeing and teamwork effectiveness. She told the BBC, “When you're on a video conference, you know everybody's looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful.” 

In an in-person meeting, you are likely to move around in your chair, lean to the side, back or forward and not think anything about it. But when you are watching yourself in that little video box, it’s natural to feel like you should stay still. It also makes us constantly self-conscious about what we look like and what we are doing. That’s hard on all of us.  

Another factor in Zoom fatigue is that we don’t get as many breaks. Previously, we would move from room to room for different meetings, or, at least stand up and move in between. Now Zoom meetings are more likely to run right up against each other, and you are staying in exactly the same place for each one. And I’ve found meetings typically run just a little longer because no one has to save 10-15 minutes to get to the next one. It’s nice not to have to dash from the Union to Lincoln in the rain, but now we know there were advantages to that kind of routine. A walk across campus can give one a breather and a little rejuvenation. With Zoom, schedule, or encourage others to schedule a few minutes between meetings to give yourself a break.  

In a related note, be aware that there are changes to the Zoom default settings. The Office of Distance Education and eLearning is doing this to ensure security. These changes include default passwords for meetings, disabling the option to join before the host, disabling name changes by default and more. You can read about it online

Zoom meetings are here to stay, at least until the next technological advance. But understanding how they impact us can go a long way to making sure we are using the tool, and not vice versa.  

I want to remind you of our Student Life information session coming up on Friday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. I’ll update you on what’s happening around the unit and Ohio State, and don’t forget to send your questions in advance to studentlife@osu.edu. I’ll send out the Zoom link as soon as it is confirmed.   

Stay Scarlet and Great!

Melissa