Whilst meeting fatigue is nothing new, it has gotten worse!
For all the advantages and disadvantage remote working offers, video calls are creating a huge pain point in the workplace.
Dr Jeremy Bailenson, Professor at Stamford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, found that Zoom meetings had increased 3300% by Oct 2020.
We are not supposed to be on video conferencing calls all day, all that time sitting around in the constant spotlight is negatively impacting our mental health.
During in-person meetings, people aren’t staring into your face from a close distance — some might be typing up notes, some might be reading, some scanning the room. But video calls don't allow this natural rhythm, they force everyone logged in to stare at each other.
This excessive eye contact is not healthy for us! In fact, according to Dr Jeremy Bailenson, the only time we are usually this close up to someone is when we are fighting or mating with them. Virtual meetings are therefore putting us in a hyper aroused state all day which isn't good for remaining calm and collected.
In addition, staring at yourself all day is extremely tiring. It leads to us being over critical of ourselves which also negatively impacts our wellbeing.
The issue is so real that the cosmetic industry has coined the phrase 'Zoom Boom'. During the last 2 years, procedures like Botox and fillers have increased by a staggering 90%.
What can Leaders Do?
So, what can we do about this as leaders?
Well, Jane Fraser, the chief executive of Citigroup, made a new workplace rule: no video calls on Fridays.
You can also follow the follow steps to try and reduce meeting fatigue:
Decide if the meeting is necessary - can we achieve what we need to with a phone call or email? Try doing a meeting costs audit over two weeks - was time well spent?
Assess meeting length - do they often go over the allocated time? Do you really need an hour? Our teams are busy so why are we stealing their precious time? Maybe we can get people to only attend the part of the meeting relevant to them, these means being really strict with agendas which is no bad thing.
Only invite people who are contributing - we shouldn't experience FOMO for not being invited, we need to be grateful of the time we are getting back! People need to feel they can decline meetings they don't feel they can input to, it will prevent doubling up and increase efficiency. Slack or WhatsApp are great tools for making sure information is shared after.
Look at other ways to meet - people are bored of video meetings so they are very quickly tuning out! Can you have more face to face or walking meetings? Chat whilst going to get coffee....
And finally, make meetings more fun wherever you can!