Exhaustion: Study reveals truth of video meetings
A recent Webex study shows that all but one key metric is increasing for hybrid workers. Ninety-five percent of workers experience video meeting fatigue.
Hybrid workers spend 56 percent of their time in meetings, and the total number of hours worked has also increased by 57 percent.
According to Aruna Ravichandran, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of Webex by Cisco, this extra time generated increased productivity by 47 percent, and the feeling of having more flexibility with work schedule by 67 percent.
“However, there are some serious negative trends as well, such as increasing personal fatigue (47 percent) which was a top concern cited earlier by workers,” Ravichandran said. “Additionally, stagnating engagement levels were reported by 23 percent as getting worse, which is becoming a key concern for executives.”
Webex’s research sough to understand just how fatigue is manifested, if at all, from the growing amount of time in video meetings. Only 19 percent of survey respondents say they feel fine at the end of the day, which means 81 percent are not physically fine.
Ravichandran said that more than 1 in 3 knowledge workers start their work day with video meetings and end the day with neck and shoulder pain (37 percent).
In second place are headaches and eye strain or blurry vision, 31 percent. Other symptoms include muscle tightness (22 percent), general aches and pains (19 percent), ringing ears (12 percent), sore throat or voice hoarseness (11 percent) and feeling jittery (10 percent).
“This provides evidence that video meeting fatigue carries actual physical issues in addition to just feeling like there are too many meetings each day,” Ravichandran said.
And, there may not be an end in sight for video meetings. Ravichandran said that the hybrid workplace is here to stay, and video meetings are a way to for employees and employers to connect with one another, and foster engagement and trust.
“The ability to collaborate effectively with team members, in the office or working remotely, is directly aligned with their ability to get their work done and ultimately influences job satisfaction, engagement, promotions and maintaining a work-life balance. This means embracing different work styles and empowering employees to work where they’re most productive. For some, that’s in the office, and for others, it’s at home or somewhere in between, where meetings will largely take place on video,” Ravichandran said.
Ravichandran said it’s not about reducing the number of video meetings or providing alternate meeting options.
“I think the better question is: how do you make video meetings better? Technology is one way. Recommendations include the ability to stand up and move around (37 percent), removing unwanted background noise (24 percent), non-verbal participation such as chat, gestures, or polls (24 percent), virtual backgrounds (22 percent), better camera locations and improved microphones (19 percent), hand-off meetings between devices (18 percent), and, lastly, the ability to personalize their video meeting solution,” Ravichandran said.
However, changes to company culture can make video meetings by reducing back-to-back meetings (42 percent), including a five-minute buffer between meetings (33 percent) and meeting-free days (27 percent).
“Given that home offices are now an extension of the work office, leaders need to consider their technology decisions more carefully. Having the right technology impacts people’s ability to work effectively and boosts loyalty with healthier and happier employees. The alternatives are physical and other fatigue issues caused by frustrating work conditions which drive employee turnover, all of which are costly to the business,” Ravichandran said.
“Without a doubt!” Ravichandran said of companies continuing video meetings in 2023. “Video meetings are here to stay, even when most employees are in the office. Our research shows that in the future, 98 percent of meetings will have at least one virtual attendee. While many are back in the office at least part of the week, the era of hybrid work is here to stay.”