Combatting Zoom fatigue | Long Island Business News

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Your company’s video-call protocols can impact productivity for remote employees and students.

That’s according to a new study by Melissa Huey, an assistant professor of psychology at New York Institute of Technology. Huey recently published the study in the Journal of School and Educational Psychology.

The study focused on how video-call users can improve concentration and mindfulness during a meeting. While the study encompassed and academic session, Huey said their are correlations for the workplace that could help to engage employees.

“Despite some of the challenges that arise with Zoom learning and working, it’s here to stay. Given this, it’s essential to investigate how we can create environments that encourage concentration, engagement, and connectivity,” Huey said in a written statement.

“While our study sample focused on college students, our findings have critical implications for the business world, and every organization that employs remote workers can benefit from this insight,” Huey added.

The study comes at a time when 26% of U.S. workers who regularly used virtual meeting tools report feeling worn out after video calls, according to the Pew Research Center.

Huey conducted the study during the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. For the study, Huey surveyed more than 470 New York Tech students enrolled in psychology and counseling courses. Classes were assigned to three different Zoom conditions, which included variables in camera usage, breakout rooms and background.

In the first condition, cameras during class were either made mandatory, encouraged, or not mentioned by the instructors at all. In the second condition, students in some classes participated in breakout rooms while other classes did not. Instructors either required students in their classes to use a calm, relaxing background provided through the Zoom platform, such as the ocean or the Golden Gate Bridge, or made no mention of the backgrounds used. At the end of the semester, students in all classes self-reported their course comprehension and mindfulness.

Participants who were required or encouraged to use cameras had significantly higher levels of course comprehension and mindfulness than those who were given no camera instructions, according to New York Tech. However, the study showed no significant differences between the cameras-mandatory versus cameras-encouraged groups, suggesting that during virtual meetings, any camera participation stands to improve engagement.

The study found that those who were assigned to Zoom breakout rooms had significantly lower levels of course comprehension than those in classes without breakout rooms. This suggests that virtual breakout rooms may not mirror the impactful small-group work commonly used in the physical classroom, where instructors can more seamlessly “jump” from group to group to help facilitate discussion and keep students focused. This finding may also benefit organizers of corporate webinars and virtual conferences, in which professionals are often placed in breakout rooms, according to New York Tech.

Participants who were instructed to use a calm, relaxing background had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and course comprehension than those with no background. Huey said that this is likely because filling in the background with a picture helped to minimize potential distractions taking place in the home–a challenge also commonly faced by remote employees.

“We know that when students and employees are engaged, they’re more likely to also perform better,” Huey said. “Therefore, understanding which Zoom conditions best encourage engagement allows educators and businesses to help these individuals remain successful and productive.”



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