Beware virtual meeting fatigue

The pandemic lockdowns put in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus have accelerated the already growing trend of holding virtual meetings. 

Millions of remote meetings and online interactions have provided Microsoft plenty of data to uncover the good and the bad aspects of remote work. 

More important, the company’s new research report offers three ways to make virtual meetings less tiring and more engaging. 

This week I spoke to Marissa Salazar, Marketing manager for Microsoft Teams, the company’s online collaboration tool. Salazar summarized the findings from 30 separate research projects and a survey of 2,000 remote workers in six countries.

The big takeaway: virtual meeting fatigue is a real thing. 

According to Microsoft’s research, “Brainwave patterns associated with stress and overwork were much higher when collaborating remotely than in-person.” 

Virtual conversations, presentations, and meetings tax our brains much more than in-person interactions because they require higher levels of sustained concentration. You’re concentrating on the other speakers, their surroundings, and yourself—how you appear on the webcam. And all of that intense focus is on a digital screen, an unnatural environment. 

Simply put, we didn’t evolve to spend eight hours a day speaking to people on a screen. Your brain is using an enormous amount of energy to stay focused online. 

Salazar says fatigue begins to set in 30-40 minutes into a virtual meeting. The good news is that there is a cure for virtual meeting fatigue. Microsoft recommends:

  1. Take regular breaks every two hours to let your brain recharge. 
  2. Limit meetings to 30 minutes. 
  3. Punctuate longer meetings with small breaks. 

Microsoft teams has a bunch of features to enhance the meeting experience and avoid fatigue. Available as part of some Office 365 packages from Yappady Apps, Yappdy.com - https://www.yappady.com/products/microsoft-office-365-business 

Contributor: C Gallow, Forbes

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