Zoom gloom or a virtual conference room? An explorative comparison study on measuring cognitive workload imposed by videoconferencing tool Zoom versus Virtual Reality tool CoVince
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Videoconferencing applications have shown their effectiveness for meeting at distance which benefits COVID-regulation compliance and cutting travelling emissions; however, their user experience was found to be inferior to face to face, possibly due to a high imposed cognitive workload. A possible solution may be the addition of the spatiality to improve nonverbal communication. Therefore, the aim of this study is 1) to develop an experiment to benchmark a videoconferencing application against a Virtual Reality application in terms of cognitive workload which can be executed under COVID-restrictions and 2) to give first insights into whether one of these two software programs outperforms the other in this area. In this research, triads of colleagues held meetings with the videoconferencing tool Zoom and the Virtual Reality application CoVince. During these meetings, task performance measurements, linguistic measurements and the scores on the NASA Task Load Index were collected. Results showed that neither application outperforms the other on the tasks and linguistic measurements. CoVince outperforms Zoom on the NASA TLX scores, but only when the moon task is executed. Explorative linguistic results show that first and third singular plural pronouns are used proportionally more in CoVince than Zoom when the moon task is executed. These two findings may suggest that cognitive workload is decreased and teamwork is enhanced in CoVince when the moon task is executed. Zoom is deemed to be more useful for goal-oriented meetings with a focus on moral decision making. CoVince may be more suited for brainstorming as a team and meetings focused on creativity. The main findings of the first aim of this research were that the fallout shelter task turned out to be unsuitable due to a ceiling effect in the scores, and the performance and linguistic measures might reflect more group processes than cognitive workload alone.