How To Avoid Video Conferencing Fatigue
Whilst video conferencing solutions have offered businesses more streamlined and collaborative communication, it is important to be mindful of the potential pitfalls associated with the over-use of video meetings within organizations.
In 2020 the global COVID-19 pandemic shook up longstanding internal communication practices for businesses around the world. With countries going into lockdown, many businesses were forced to rethink the structures of their workforce, with many opting to close offices and switch to remote working.
In an attempt to ensure high levels of productivity during this turbulent time, many businesses adopted video conferencing software to organize team meetings, catchups and progress reports. However, what soon became apparent for many organizations was that in the case of video conferencing, more meetings did not necessarily correlate with increased productivity. Instead, many businesses experienced ‘video conferencing fatigue’ as fewer face-to-face encounters meant more time spent in online meetings.
It should be noted however that the concept of ‘meeting fatigue’ existed long before the effects of COVID-19 were felt across the globe. A survey conducted by Clarizen/Harris Poll revealed that prior to the pandemic, US workers were spending 4.5 hours per week in general status meetings each week and on top of that, were spending an additional 4.6 hours per week just preparing for these meetings.
With more and more workers still working from home well into 2021, these figures have grown exponentially often causing a negative effect on productivity. In this article, we will discuss methods and best practices to combat video conferencing fatigue within your organization, whether you are working from home or within the office.
Never Underestimate the Value Of Meeting Agendas
When organizing an online, telephone or face-to-face meeting, you should always aim to have meeting agendas and meeting minutes in place. These tools are an essential way of communicating the purpose of a meeting to participants ahead of time, whilst also ensuring that everyone is on the same page during the meeting itself. If no agenda has been set for your meeting there is a higher risk of going off-topic or focusing on discussions that could be saved for another meeting. Taking minutes throughout the meeting also allows participants to leave with a clearer idea of the discussion points and actions required.
Examples of meeting agendas:
- Meeting Update
- When the goal of the meeting is to share the progress of a current project or task without discussing the finer details of the ‘how’ and ‘why’. These update meetings should be kept short and concise to provide the necessary team members with an overview and status of a project.
- Discussion meetings can be great for brainstorming new ideas or concepts. Whilst these types of meetings can often be less formal, it is still advisable to capture minutes or notes that are made so that no ideas are lost once the meeting has concluded.
- Presentation of Ideas
- A meeting where a presenter shares their information or ideas in order to solicit feedback about that topic area. The meeting should be organized around what will be presented rather than hosting a general discussion.
- Decision Making
- To be used to discuss projects that may have stalled or that are requiring approval in order to progress. By only gathering the key personnel who can make decisions and help present the options available, the meeting organizers can avoid unnecessarily including other members of the team who are not required.
Plan Your Meetings Ahead Of Time
Another effective way to avoid meeting overload is to plan your meetings ahead of time. This means booking a meeting room in advance and scheduling meeting times that work for all participants, as well as allotting enough time during the meeting itself so that everyone has had the opportunity to share their input. By adopting this approach, meeting organizers can help ensure that meetings do not overrun and are using the allocated time as efficiently as possible.
Measure Hours, Not Meetings
When trying to determine whether too much time is being spent in meetings, it is advisable to focus on the number of hours spent in the meetings rather than the total number of meetings. As meetings can often overrun, simply counting the number of meetings per day, week or month may not provide a true indication of how much time is being spent in meetings.
By calculating an employee, or entire department’s, total hours spent in meetings over a given period, a more accurate cost (both in time and money) can be determined and measured accordingly.
Open a dialogue with your team about video conferencing
Obtaining feedback from your team about video conferencing fatigue is key to making sure that you know what the real problem is. Every member of your team is an individual, with their own ideas and thoughts on meetings. Some may be comfortable with condensing a week’s worth of meetings into one long meeting, whereas others may prefer smaller catch-up meetings dotted throughout the week.
It is also important to remember that working from home can take many forms depending on the individual’s situation. Therefore what may be a convenient time for you to organize a meeting may actually cause more stress for others within your team.
Take meeting breaks
The meeting fatigue that some people may experience is often a result of trying to conduct and attend too many meetings in too short a time. Consider how long attendees spend in each meeting and take regular break periods to ensure that we are giving them enough time between meetings to refresh themselves. It could be five minutes, ten minutes or even fifteen – it depends on what the meeting is about and what the agenda involves but as a rule of thumb, it’s best to give at least fifteen minutes between different meetings.
As we have discussed in this article, video conferencing fatigue is a real issue being faced by many organizations around the world. By taking steps to ensure clear boundaries and time periods for meetings are set, businesses can reap the rewards that video conferencing solutions have to offer without sacrificing productivity.
Whatever changes you decide to implement, it is always recommended to test, monitor, and report on any changes to ensure that positive results are achieved.