Why Do We Get Tired Of Video Meetings?

Previous studies have suggested that you get tired of video meetings (virtual meetings) because they involve many impressions. A recent study shows the opposite.

The current study was published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 1 in December 2023.

Getting sleepy during virtual meetings appears to be due to boredom and lack of stimulation.

The authors expected that the participants would be more stressed in connection with meetings on a screen, but the results showed the opposite. Especially those who were not that engaged in the work in the first place became drowsy at the meetings.

Pulse and fatigue

The participants were 44 knowledge workers who were followed through nearly 400 meetings. The researchers measured heart rate variations during virtual meetings and compared these with results from physical meetings. They also investigated different types of fatigue in the participants. In addition, the participants filled in a questionnaire which was supposed to reveal what kind of attitude they had towards the work.

For those who were highly engaged, it mattered little whether the meeting was physical or virtual. They stayed active in virtual meetings. But for those who were less engaged in the work, the virtual meetings were experienced as very boring.

The camera should be on

In physical meetings, it is easier to stay focused than in virtual meetings. With the latter, cognitive signals and sensory impressions are limited. Especially if the camera is switched off, the participants can compensate by doing something else.

Although an appropriate amount of stimuli is good for the brain, multitasking during meetings is problematic. Only activities that happen by themselves, such as walking, are appropriate to do in a virtual meeting.

– Walking can give more energy and help make it easier to concentrate. But if you try to focus on two things at the same time that requires cognitive attention, you won’t hear if anything important is happening in the meeting, says Niina Nurmi, who is the lead author of the study.