Here’s an interesting article trying to make an informed guess as to why videoconferencing all day long is so exhausting. The author suggests some reasons:
- being stared at for hours at a time at close range: the faces on your computer screen are within the 60 cm ‘intimate’ space, normally reserved for loved ones and family members, and you’re literally being stared at like giving a speech on a stage.
- overload on sending and receiving non-verbal cues: communicating non-verbally takes more effort, like nodding longer.
- constantly looking in the mirror: standard setting in many video call software is that you see your own video stream, amongst those of the other participants. Your looking in the mirror and previous research has shown that can cause self-evaluation and negative affect.
- video call convention requires sitting still: in order to be visible to the others, centred in your video stream, you are moving less than in other settings. Think about all the things you normally do when calling someone using audio only.
Even though more thorough research needs to be conducted all of the above sounds very plausible to me. So next time someone sends you a zoom (or teams) link, suggest doing a traditional audio call and take a walk outside instead. And when meeting with a group, agree on a new convention that it’s alright to step out of view in you office, not face your screen, or switch off your camera entirely.