How are we affected by our digital meetings?

How are we affected by our digital meetings?

Zoom and Teams have become the new meeting room for many people since the Covid19 pandemic. This has resulted in drastically increased meeting hours in front of the screen in your home office. I have personally experienced this fatigue from sitting in meetings all day without really knowing why it was that draining.

For some this has been a positive and welcome experience and a positive impact on the balance between private and work life. But for others it has resulted in longer working days with fatigue from too much time spent in digital meetings. The fact is that this is a completely new way of working which will not go away but become an integral part of how work is done now for millions of people around the world.

Much has been written about this new working life and new research has emerged that provides us with more insides on how more digital meetings affects us as humans. Below we have collected some of the most interesting findings from new research and articles from specialists. We think that some of these findings are important to consider keeping a healthy balance in our continued digital meeting working life.

The Good

  • 62% of people surveyed in a recent Microsoft study said they feel more empathetic toward their colleagues now that they have a better view of life at home.
  • Over half (52%) of the people surveyed feel more valued or included as a remote contributor in meetings because everyone is now in the same virtual room.
  • 82% of managers surveyed expect to have more flexible work from home policies post-pandemic. More broadly, 71% of the employees and managers reported a desire to continue working from home. At least part-time.
  • People who dread physical meetings or more introverted are more comfortable in digital meetings.

The Bad

  • Brainwaves reveal remote meeting fatigue is real. New research from Microsoft shows that remote collaboration is more difficult (mentally challenging) than physical. They even found that as people return to more physical in-person collaboration they may find this more difficult to pursue compared to before the pandemic.
  • Video meetings lead to fatigue.
    • The brain uses more processing power to interpret body signals and facial expressions over video compared to physical meetings, according to research. A study found that brainwave markers associated with overwork and stress are significantly higher in video meetings than non-meeting work like writing emails. Fatigue begins to set in 30-40 minutes into a meeting.
    • An added factor, is that if we are physically on camera, we are very aware of being watched. “When you’re on a video conference, you know everybody’s looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful.” says Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor at Clemson University, who studies workplace wellbeing and teamwork effectiveness
    • Fatigue is experienced as a real problem by millions of people and has been a popular search term on Google since the pandemic spread and digital meetings became an everyday activity for millions of people around the world

The Ugly

  • Nearly 60% of people Microsoft surveyed feel less connected to their colleagues since working remotely more often. This is also cited in other research and case studies as a major risk from remote work and extensive use of digital meetings.
  • The overall situation that we are forced into by the pandemic makes us even more vulnerable to negative feelings and this also affects how we work and meet. The fact that we are forced to have most of our social interactions (work, friends, family…) from the same place: the home office, makes the situation even more strenuous.

Even though there are draw backs related to digital meetings it is important not to forget the positive sides of this amazing technology and how we can benefit from it. I personally see more benefits the drawbacks but as this new research highlights, we have to become more aware and understand the side effects.

So, the challenge is therefore how to find the best ways of working remotely and minimize fatigue and negative effects. There is no right or wrong or easy hacks and we will have to continue to experiment and discuss what works and what does not work. What works for me may not be great for you. However, based on our work with many local and international organisations and leadership teams we know how digital meetings can be optimized both for the individual and for groups. In a follow-up blog we will therefore share our experiences and suggest some easy ways for how to avoid fatigue and optimize your digital meeting experiences.

But if you can’t wait for the next blog, please contact us already now, and we will be happy to share more of our experiences and expertise.


Zoom fatigue is real — here’s why video calls are so draining

Peter är en av UClaritys ledande specialister på IT-kommunikationslösningar med fokus på strategiprojekt samt införande av ny teknologi i verksamheten.