Google Forms was used to obtain Participant Consent.
Quantitative/Qualitative Data, Data Collection Methodologies, Data Extraction and Coding, and Data Analysis.
In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the world leaned on teleconferencing to communicate. We wanted to learn if the usage of such teleconferencing applications had an affect on people after prolonged usage; a phenomenon called "Zoom fatigue."
The purpose of the study was to identify the prolonged effect of Zoom use on daily users and identify any potential usability issues a Zoom user might face while using the videoconferencing platform.
Survey Monkey (Diary)
Google Forms (Consent)
4 UX Graduate Students
Post Diary Interview
Overall: Two Weeks
Discovery: One Week
Data Analysis: Three Days
Compile and Present Findings: Four days
With any research study, obtaining participant consent is the first step. Participants should be aware of the purpose of the study, any risks, any incentives, and must also be given the opportunity to leave the study at any time.
The Daily Diaries
Only four question were chosen because we wanted the diary to be easy to fill out. Participants were to fill them out at the end of the day for three days, and we did not want the diary to be an "extra burdensome action item" for them. We also thought it was essential to collect some initial data before finalizing our interview questions. Three of the Diary Study questions were answered with a series of Emoticon Responses and a single open-ended answer question.
Post Diary Interviews
Each participant was asked to participate in a thirty minute interview after completing their three day diaries. The interview protocol was open-ended, allowing users to speak freely. It was comprised of four sections: Interview, warm-up, body, and cool-down. During the body of the interview, we relied on probing follow-up questions for the participants if responses were vague or unclear.
Data Analysis: What We Learned
Diary entries revealed that participants mostly felt "🙂 - At Ease" before using Zoom on the first day and participants that recorded shorter hours of Zoom use (between 1-3 hours) on average felt "😁 - Cheerful" at the end of the day and even described their Zoom experience as "good" or "effective." However, participants the recorded longer hours of Zoom use (between 6-8 hours) on average felt "😞 - Tired" at the end of the day and described their Zoom experience as "exhausting" and "draining."
Data Analysis: Other Insights
Here we highlighted some insights from the diary study that we synthesized from the facts above. On average, female participants in the study spent 4-6 hours more on Zoom than male participants, which could be because of their customer-facing roles in tech. Another key insight we discovered was that participants who reported a negative feeling the previous day reported the same feeling the following day before using Zoom.
1. In most cases, Zoom isn't the only teleconferencing software being used.
Most of the participants also use a mix of video conferencing technologies such as Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Google Meet, and Skype, which is primarily determined based on "application."
2. Constant attention on awareness is emotionally exhausting.
One striking theme is that there is a level of stress about having a "perfect" session, causing participants to concentrate on a higher level of awareness regarding their surroundings. In reviewing the four participants' transcripts, they were very concerned with their backgrounds, ensuring they're on mute, ensuring their video is on or off when appropriate, and displaying the correct information on screen if sharing their screen. Two participants found it unsettling to have to look at themselves constantly. One participant had concerns regarding knowing if they were on mute or not, as they felt that it was not prominently displayed.
3. Being sedentary causes physical fatigue.
All participants reported experiencing physical fatigue due to being sedentary and viewing a screen for long periods. While this is true for many professions, the action of not being able to get up and move and feeling tied to a desk can be exhausting for many. Typically, in-person meetings involve standing, moving, and pointing, especially during presentations. Even so, when meetings are done in-person, employees typically stand to go back to their work areas and have other opportunities to move about the office during the day.
Based on the interviews and the diary study conducted for this research, it was concluded that the general sentiment about video teleconferencing and Zoom was positive. Zoom was able to efficiently help people with their daily meetings and tasks when remote work was required.
However, prolonged use of Zoom seemed to have led to the phenomenon known as "Zoom Fatigue." Participants that spend an average of six to seven hours on Zoom daily were physically and emotionally fatigued. The fatigue resulted from an increase in screen time, constant attention to self and surroundings while on a teleconference, and desk-bound work style.