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It’s more important than ever that companies place an emphasis on wellbeing.
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Is Remote Work Working? The Data Behind Video Meeting Fatigue

How we can guard against meeting fatigue and protect employee well-being

Aruna Ravichandran
Jul 14, 2022 | 3 min read
Photo portrait of Aruna Ravichandran
Aruna Ravichandran

Aruna Ravichandran is a change agent and recognized authority on ‘the future of work’, with a track-record of guiding customers, partners, and global teams through workforce and technology transformations. Aruna holds an MBA and MS computer engineering from Santa Clara University and a BS computer science from Bangalore Institute of Technology (BIT). She was also a graduate of the esteemed CMO Leadership program at Kellogg Business School in 2019.

The pandemic led to a virtual awakening that has now become the norm in many industries. Remote and hybrid work gives many employees the flexibility and work-life balance they crave. But there are also downfalls. A new report on meeting fatigue, sponsored by Webex by Cisco, demonstrates the toll virtual work can take. The study found that while hybrid work can unlock work-life balance and financial benefits, it’s more important than ever that companies place an emphasis on wellbeing. The study, titled “The Data Behind Video Meeting Fatigue and How To Combat It,” surveyed 1,403 participants to understand key employee and employer objectives and challenges for 2022.

What is meeting fatigue?

Meeting fatigue is the exhaustion that follows a workday full of virtual meetings. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate meeting fatigue using technology.

What are the signs of meeting fatigue?

Meeting fatigue can cause physical ailments, such as eye strain, neck pain, headaches, and more. In video meetings, background noise, poor sound, and video quality are some of the issues that were found to  correlate with these physical ailments.

What did the study uncover?

The research found that hybrid workers spend two or more hours in video meetings each workday, with half of those surveyed saying they work from home eight or more days each month.

Executives stated that their top focus for remote workers in 2022 is team performance, employee engagement, individual performance, and data protection, with all four only separated by five percentage points. Thus, at a strategic level, team and employee performance was a higher priority than headline-grabbing security issues. 

Hybrid knowledge workers indicate that their top challenges for 2022 were work-life balance, preventing burnout, and career advancement. Only 19 percent of those surveyed said they felt fine at the end of the day, with 81 percent  describing some physical ailment at the end of each day filled with video meetings. Additionally, 95 percent experienced video meeting fatigue and said they wanted changes to company culture to reduce this.

How do we combat meeting fatigue?

In order to address some of the negative trends, it is key to understand what technology is being used to facilitate video meetings. Some 69 percent of all video meetings are attended using laptops, and two out of three video meeting attendees use just the laptop alone, with no peripherals (webcam, headset, ear buds, etc.); while, 15 percent of participants indicated that they use a desktop to attend meetings, and 9 percent primarily use a mobile device. Just 7 percent of participants use a dedicated web conferencing device. 

The recommendations to reduce meeting fatigue fall into two categories: changes to company culture and improved meeting technology. The top three suggestions included adjustments to meeting culture, such as reducing back-to-back meetings (42 percent), five-minute buffers between meetings (33 percent), and meeting-free days (27 percent). 

The rest of the recommendations were to improve meeting technology, such as the ability to stand up and move around during meetings (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.