Video conferencing makes us stupider and less creative – and that’s according to science.
Laboratory examination by Melanie C. Brooks of Columbia Business School and Jonathan Levaw of Stanford found that “video conferencing hinders the production of creative ideas.”
What’s a great excuse to keep your video turned off the next time you call Zoom?
The study found that “video conferencing hinders the generation of ideas because it focuses communicators on the screen, which causes a narrower cognitive focus.”
In other words, the results suggest that the cognitive load used in virtual interactions interferes with the size of the bandwidth we have for creativity.
Obviously, when you look at the screen, the narrowing of your vision “limits the associative process underlying the generation of ideas”, in which your mind branches and pulls different information, forming new ideas in the process.
The study, conducted in five countries, explains: “As virtual communicators narrow their visual reach to the shared screen environment, their cognitive focus narrows.
But you’re not sweating yet – that doesn’t mean we all have to go back to the office five days a week.
Telling Mike to include himself is here to stay, “but there’s tension.”
These findings support Airbnb CEO Brian Cesky’s concerns when he announced his new WFH hybrid policy last week.
His decision? Quarterly personal meetings.
Cesky is not the only founder to make the transition to WFH’s hybrid policy after the pandemic.
A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review in August 2021, he said that 75% of employees in the United States reported “a personal preference to work remotely at least one day a week.” Research paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research – entitled Why work from home will stay – confirms HBR’s estimates, estimating that “20% of US working days will be spent at home after the pandemic is over”.
Nobody says you have to go back to the office
Video conferencing can make creativity more challenging, but on the other hand, it seems to make it easier to prioritize and manage projects.
As science says“When it comes to choosing which idea to follow, we find no evidence that video conferencing groups are less effective (and preliminary evidence that they may be more effective) than personal groups.”
Unfortunately, this is not generally accepted.
Another study conducted by Maria Tomprou et al. from Carnegie Mellon University. however, in March 2021, it suggests that video conferencing not only hinders creativity but also “reduces collective intelligence.” Hmm.
Turning off our cameras can make us smarter and more creative in meetings
Carnegie’s study suggests that the main blocker of collective intelligence and productivity in virtual communication is video access.
Their reasoning? “Teams without visual cues are more successful at synchronizing their voice cues and speech turns, and when they do, they have a higher CI.”
CI, or collective intelligence, is defined here as the ability of a group of people to work together to solve problems.
Contrary to popular belief about the value of video in improving long-distance relationships and collaboration, Carnegie Mellon researchers I offer that limiting the time spent with video included can lead to more equal and collaborative communication – as well as improved problem-solving capabilities – probably because without video there are fewer visual stimuli and fewer distractions.