What is it about?
Fatigue in virtual meetings stems from mental underload and lack of stimulation, potentially harming cognitive performance afterward. We highlight the role of work engagement in preventing this fatigue and explain why it affects some knowledge workers more than others. With the rise in virtual meetings, these findings emphasize the risk to mental energy and cognition, emphasizing the importance of strong work engagement.
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Why is it important?
Our study underscores the potential drawbacks of virtual meetings, especially as organizations increasingly adopt remote work. A high volume of meetings, particularly virtual ones, can deplete employees' energy throughout the workday. To address this, managers should encourage limiting meetings to only necessary ones and prioritize face-to-face interactions when feasible. Face-to-face meetings offer advantages like real-time interaction, flexible conversation, and rich non-verbal cues, which help keep participants engaged and energized compared to virtual meetings.
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This page is a summary of: Virtual meeting fatigue: Exploring the impact of virtual meetings on cognitive performance and active versus passive fatigue., Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, October 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/ocp0000362.
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Virtual Meeting Fatigue: Exploring the Impact of Virtual Meetings on Cognitive Performance and Active Versus Passive Fatigue
In this study, we challenge the commonly held belief that virtual meeting fatigue manifests as exhaustion (i.e., active fatigue) resulting from overloading demands, and instead, suggest that participation in virtual meetings may lead to increased drowsiness (i.e., passive fatigue) due to underload of stimulation. Using subjective and cardiac measures (heart rate variability), we investigated the relationships between virtual vs. face-to-face meetings and different types of fatigue (active and passive) among 44 knowledge workers during real-life meetings (N=382). Our multilevel path analysis revealed a link between virtual meetings and higher levels of passive fatigue, which then impacted cognitive performance. Additionally, our results suggest that work engagement may act as individual-level moderator, explaining why some knowledge workers are affected while others are not. Given the growing amount of time spent in virtual meetings, these findings emphasize the risks to mental energy and cognitive performance and highlight the protective role of high general work engagement.
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