for W3c validation
Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.
Cartoon of the Week
Jakkii says: No commentary needed this week – I think most of us can relate. Let me know if you find that reset button, though…
Zoom fatigue is real
Anne says: If you haven’t experienced it, you’ve probably heard a colleague mention it… “I’m soooo over Zoom meetings…” and “Why does every meeting have to be on Zoom?” !!
Now – it’s official – it’s exhausting being on video calls, back-to-back, all day!
Initially, some of our conversations noted the breakdown of sharing our home lives with colleagues – from kids, to pets, to decor – there was no place to hide! Unless you added a Zoom background – but we soon figured out they didn’t always work either – there’s been some hilarious pixilated versions of people absorbed into the backgrounds, and quite a few other weird experiences as well.
This article by Libby Sander, an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour, and Oliver Bauman, Assistant Professor in Psychology, both at Bond University in Queensland, explains the key issues at play – and the cognitive load that is experienced by video calls.
They explain five aspects that create the cognitive load in video calls (this isn’t exclusive to Zoom):
- Loss of non-verbal communication
No surprises here – this is one of the most commonly stated issues of online collaboration. The authors explain that on screen we have to work much harder at trying to read the facial cues. And if there are multiple faces on your screen, it’s very difficult to concentrate on the speaker only. We’re constantly trying to read reactions and feedback cues which in a meeting with the same number of people is entirely manageable. What apparently happens is without the appearance of body language, we concentrate heavily on the verbal cues, which is more exhausting for us to manage.
- When the kids run in
Kids, dogs, cats… I think this anxiety broke down for a lot of people after about a week in lockdown. But the example in the article is special – I haven’t experienced that one yet!!
- No water-cooler catch-ups
I don’t think this issue can be attached solely to video calls. This is more a symptom of lockdown and isolation. Spontaneous interactions and informal discussions are recognised to be stimuli for innovation and creativity. Video calls, online text chats and emails don’t replace the real-life interactions in the office. However, they introduce cognitive scaffolding, which can be developed or recreated in other innovative ways if we’re all working and interacting remotely. In the short-term, video calls with a particular agenda are unlikely to resolve this issue, unless there’s intentional design and experienced participants. In fact, if you look at some of the amazing initiatives people have come up with to stay in touch socially during lockdown (from TikTok dancing, to quarantini sessions, to wine tasting and dinner parties), it makes you wonder why business meetings are still following the same structure as if they were in a physical meeting room.
- Looking at ourselves
Oh yes – this is a tough one! Do you find yourself watching your face while you’re speaking? It’s not the same as talking to yourself in the mirror – this is weird and it’s unsettling and causes most people a lot of stress.
- When silence is deafening
Silence online feels like forever – that 1 or 2 second delay while someone is thinking – feels like forever. As does the lag while people unmute themselves, or people talk over each other unintentionally. The flow is not natural and makes the sessions feel like you’re driving on off-road tracks!
All of these aspects impact our cognitive load and the more load there is, the more exhausted we are. As an advocate for the use of video, in the appropriate contexts and with bandwidth permitting, I have been troubled by the negative impacts being experienced by many people during this lockdown period. Bad experiences with technology take a lot longer to resolve than face-to-face interactions. We’ve seen this in particular with early eLearning initiatives where poor instructional design made the user experience far from optimal and set back adoption of quality eLearning for years.
No one is saying get rid of video calls – in remote working and lockdown environments it’s been an important element of staying connected – but, let’s just think before we send another Zoom meeting invite: do I really need a video chat for this? In fact, do we have to meet about this at all? Sometimes we can very effectively collaborate on projects without constant meetings – how about using some technology (other than video calls) to do that!
Work with me
I really don’t know how this got started, but if you search “work with me” on YouTube (the link below will take you straight to the results for this query), you’ll find a whole bunch of videos that are just… people working and studying. I guess the idea is that it simulates – sort of – the experience of being in an open plan office, or in a library, or at school, and having other people working and studying near you. Perhaps there’s a psychological guilt factor involved, like ‘this person is working hard so I should too’? Or even ‘this person might judge me for whether or not I’m doing work’? Who knows? And what about when the person is filmed with their head and face out of the frame, like in the video linked above? I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually work near headless people so I’m not sure exactly what this one is going for.
I’m super curious though about whether anyone finds it actually effective – if you give it a try, please let me know how it goes!
Forced social isolation causes neural craving similar to hunger
Jakkii says: This is an interesting read on Scientific American about a study into the neural effects of forced social isolation.
After only ten hours of social isolation– and even despite people knowing exactly when their deprivation would end– people reported substantially more social craving, loneliness, discomfort, dislike of isolation, and decreased happiness than they did at baseline. Similarly (and unexpectedly), the same findings were seen after ten hours of food fasting.
Social isolation is nothing new, so we have been aware that it can have negative impacts on humans for some time. However, this large-scale, forced isolation is a whole kettle of fish altogether, and so it’s interesting to see any research that might shed some light on the many feelings we’ve experienced at various times throughout the lockdown. I suppose if there’s one positive to take away, it’s that perhaps greater understanding of the impacts in social isolation in general, and heightened empathy for those who are more socially isolated on an ongoing basis such as those who live alone or people who live with disabilities or chronic illnesses that keep them largely confined to home, might lead us to better policy, better services and outreach, and better outcomes for people. From a workplace perspective, too, perhaps we might get a little better at understanding the increased sense isolation of when working from home – particularly if others have returned to the physical workplace – and begin to be more intentional and inclusive in how we bring remote workers into the fold.
Around the house
Jakkii says: Restrictions are now beginning to ease all around the country, so we hope you’re enjoying some healthy, safe, and socially distanced time in the great outdoors and in supporting your local small businesses! But, of course, there’s still plenty of time being spent at home, so here’s your weekly round-up of some ways to keep yourself occupied at home:
- Rethink the summer playlist with Questlove
- Find some theatre you can stream from home
- Enjoy this long read on running in the age of coronavirus
- Read a free story from JK Rowling – with your kids, or alone!
- Learn how the ‘lost art’ of breathing can impact sleep and resilience
- Planning a wedding? Find out how one couple moved their ceremony online
- Daydream about the perfect balcony for your next place with these 10 housing projects with bold balconies
So… left or right? Hmmm…
2021 goals: pic.twitter.com/lT8shN0tBw
— LOUISE (@alluregaga) May 18, 2020
we gotta wash everything dude pic.twitter.com/rbEHuRnKUh
— DOX 🌻 (@doxmontoya) March 28, 2020
I’ve been told I needed a spice rack in my kitchen. Did I do this right? pic.twitter.com/NtNXK4gco8
— Yann (@yannhatchuel) May 25, 2020
Misinformation Friday Five
- What happens when the medical misinformation comes from the president?
- YouTube virus misinformation fight trips on drug touted by Trump
- Popular COVID-19 videos on YouTube misinform the public
- India jails those found sharing coronavirus “misinformation” on WhatsApp
- Facebook-partnered Croatian fact-checkers face “huge amount of hatred”
COVID-19 Friday Five
- What our post-pandemic behaviour might look like
- Will coronavirus make us rethink mass incarceration?
- COVID-19 immunity certificates: Everything to know about this controversial solution
- How to weigh the risk of going out in one chart (Vox), A guide to staying safe (The Atlantic), and the Aussie perspective: How to think about risk as restrictions ease (ABC)
- The coronavirus pandemic forced my friends and me to celebrate Eid in isolation, but we found unexpected joy from rethinking how we worship and reach out to others
Work Friday Five
- Office work will never be the same and How work will change after COVID-19
- The future of work and the next computing platform
- Elevators changed cities. Will coronavirus change elevators?
- ‘I had to choose being a mother’: With no child care or summer camps, women are being edged out of the workforce
- (Podcast) Making remote work work
Tech Friday Five
- What the hell is a cyber diplomat?
- Bitcoin Pizza Day 2020: How two Papa John’s pies became famous
- Chinese city’s health-tracking surveillance tech set to outlast the pandemic
- Coronavirus contact-tracing apps face another challenge: designing a great user experience
- AI algorithms are puzzled by our online behavior during the coronavirus pandemic
Social Media Friday Five
- Twitter labels Trump’s tweets with a fact check for the first time, Trump signs EO that may scrap or weaken law that protects social media companies, while Zuckerberg slams Twitter, claims ‘Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiters of truth’ (though CNBC has some examples of where Facebook has been an arbiter of truth)
- Trump Executive Order misreads key law promoting free expression online and violates the First Amendment
- Facebook executives shut down efforts to make the site less divisive while shareholders try to block their encryption plan
- YouTube fixes error that deleted comments critical of the Chinese Communist Party
- Charli D’Amelio is TikTok’s biggest star. She has no idea why.
Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast
This week: where will the sputtering car industry go? And struggling food delivery apps. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.
The stories this week
Other stories we bring up