Study: Videoconferencing Mentally Draining

John Lister's picture

Video calls could cause more mental fatigue than in-person events according to a recent study. Although the study was on a very small scale, the researchers said the differences were "notable."

Austrian academics said they wanted to find out if widespread anecdotal reports of "videoconferencing fatigue" were true. They defined the effect as "somatic and cognitive exhaustion that is caused by the intensive and/or inappropriate use of videoconferencing tools." In other words, the exhaustion affected both the mind and the body.

The researchers asked 35 students to wear heart monitoring and electroencephalogom (EEG) equipment during two lectures, as well as complete surveys about how they felt. The study compared one lecture given face to face and one delivered through video conferencing.

Physical And Mental Effects

The video lecture was actually a recording (allowing students to take part in the experiment across a wider time period). However, the students were told they could not interact and were unaware it was not delivered live.

The results were extremely detailed but the key is that those in the video conferencing were more likely both to display and report signs of fatigue, with the effect increasing as the lecture went on. Those at the in-person lecture reported being more lively and active than those watching online. (Source:

The researchers concluded that the problem could become a vicious circle. Somebody who is mentally fatigued may have to put in more effort and energy to maintain attention.

Meetings Could Be Different

Naturally such a study has some major limitations that could affect the conclusions in different ways. For example, somebody taking part in a meeting could face more mental exhaustion than somebody watching a lecture (online or in person) because of the need to display paying attention and to be ready to contribute.

The Register also notes that the study didn't set out to assess any fatigue or stress that's indirectly linked to an in-person meeting such as the time and energy spent traveling to a venue by a fixed deadline. (Source:

The video lecture of the experiment was carried out with the participants watching a screen in an empty classroom. The researchers noted the results could be different if it was repeated with participants in their own homes, replicating remote working.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you find videoconferencing mentally draining? Does it matter whether you are simply watching a presentation or actively taking part in a discussion? Do you think increased use of video call technology will have significant health or cultural effects?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)


doulosg's picture

What was actually being compared here? From what I can piece together, either some watched in a group setting and others watched alone, or some watched in a large venue (classroom) and others watched in a smaller one (conference room).

I suspect the culprit is the technology. While Zoom offered a lot of benefit during the pandemic (allowing us to maintain social connections), it was always a pain to get the setting right and deal with the slow connections and the folks who couldn't manage to turn off their microphones (or turn them on when they'd speak). Even cell phones require a delay in responding to the other party, so a landline call is less stressful (at least for me).