Online conferences and in-person meetings are fundamentally different from one another.
Working from home has transformed from a highly sought-after job perk to a bottom-line expectation.
Employees who used to travel from meeting to meeting are now relying on video conferencing technology to interface with customers, vendors, and team members. Free from the hassle of traffic and interoffice travel, these people are filling their schedules with back-to-back meetings supported by digital technology.
Until they burn out.
It turns out that scheduling back-to-back virtual meetings all day actually reduces productivity. This is true even for people whose pre-pandemic workday involved hours of back-to-back meetings.
Employers everywhere are starting to ask, “What’s the difference between video conferencing and in-person meetings?”
It turns out there’s plenty different. Employees whose jobs depend on productive meetings need to treat online meetings differently than in-person ones. For many businesses, preventing video conferencing fatigue is the best way to mitigate the risk of workplace burnout.
What is Video Conferencing Fatigue?
Video conferencing fatigue, also called virtual communication fatigue can drag productivity down for entire teams. It is caused by prolonged, excessive use of platforms. This kind of fatigue presents itself in several ways:
- Lack of Focus.
- Chronic Irritability and Frustration.
- Reduced Input.
- Headaches and Migraines.
Each of these symptoms can take a serious toll on anyone’s quality of life, and they will rapidly decrease the productivity of teams that rely on digital meetings and video conferences. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to combat video conferencing fatigue the moment it starts setting in.
1. Lack of Focus: Signs and Solutions
People lose focus in real-life meetings, too. But in a digital environment, it becomes a much more difficult problem to deal with.
In the office, it’s relatively easy for someone to catch up after losing focus for a moment. At any given moment, there are numerous side-conversations going on, and ample opportunity to communicate contextual clues silently.
In the digital environment, getting back on track after a momentary lapse in focus is hard to do. The more it happens, the harder it becomes to remain focused. In the end, it becomes a cyclical, self-reinforcing problem.
The digital medium adds additional layers of complexity to the problem. In a real-life meeting, it’s perfectly acceptable to look out the window for a few moments to gather your thoughts. In a digital video conference, looking anywhere other than at the screen indicates a lack of interest.
This is an especially tough problem for employees who need to interact with customers. Every customer believes (rightfully) that they deserve your absolute and undivided attention. They don’t appreciate companies that can’t deliver.
There are several things that employers can do about team members who appear to be losing focus during digital meetings:
- Keep Meetings Organized to Schedule. The better organized your meetings are, the easier it will be for your team members to balance and prioritize their attention to them. It’s important to accept that not every attendee needs to pay attention to every second of every meeting. Schedule presentations in a way that allows people to organize their time around the subjects being discussed – rather than letting meetings dictate their schedules to them.
- Enable Closed Captions. Some people have a much easier time reading than listening. With the right video conferencing software, you can enable real-time closed captioning during digital meetings. Giving attendees the ability to turn off their sound and read the discussion in real-time can offer much-needed breathing room for meeting-heavy enterprises.
- Include Virtual Time Off. Employees who have to travel from meeting to meeting throughout the day get to enjoy small mini-breaks in between meetings. Whether it’s a quick coffee in the break room or a drive from one office to another, the day is essentially paced by the time between meetings. Schedule meetings with some downtime between them, and don’t be afraid to take a break right in the middle of longer meetings, if necessary.
- Allow Attendees to Block Cameras. For meeting attendees, seeing the speaker’s face helps improve focus. Seeing their own face, on the other hand, is a distraction. It’s not something that adds value to the meeting experience. Encourage meeting attendees to block their cameras when not speaking, and try focusing more on screen-shared content using an extension like RecTrace.
2. Chronic Irritability: Signs and Solutions
In-person meetings are relatively simple operations. You get everyone into a room, have the host present the subject, and then start discussing it. Unforeseen complications are rare, beyond the occasional projector mishap.
The digital meeting environment is significantly more complex. Network glitches, dropped connections, spotty Wi-Fi, and badly timed software updates can all get in the way of an online conference.
To make matters worse, many of these problems are highly technical in nature. The average non-IT office employee simply doesn’t have the expertise to troubleshoot the dreaded, “Please check your network connection” error message. – Read more
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