TMCnet Feature
March 23, 2021

Meeting Fatigue - How to Deal with the New Productivity Killer



Meetings have always been a big topic in companies. You can’t run a business without them, but most of us wish we could attend as little as possible. With the workplaces going remote, so did the meetings. And while we can attend them in our sweatpants now (at least in most cases) we are experiencing more meeting fatigue than ever before. 



Want to know how to deal with this new stress factor? Keep on reading.

Virtual meeting fatigue

So how come our meetings are now more stressful and tiring than when they were held in the office? According to BBC, virtual meetings require more focus, make us feel like we are being watched at all times, and diminishes the difference between work and play.

Think about it, how easy it is to wander off in a virtual meeting? You get an e-mail, your phone rings, or even want to write back to another colleague and all of your focus is lost. Even worse, you cannot quickly nudge a colleague and ask what you missed. Thus, you have to be present and focused at all times.

Beng on camera also adds to the stress as you are now feeling like you are always being watched. In a physical meeting, you can see who is looking at you and when. While in the virtual scenario you expect to be watched at all times. 

Lastly, we are now holding all of our video calls from the same place. Whether we are calling our friends to have a social chat or meeting for a quarterly review, it is done in the same room. So most of our meetings start to feel the same and do not allow us to relax.

Reduce the fatigue

The good news though is, that there are 3 surefire ways to reduce the virtual meeting fatigue for your team. Try them out to make your team happier.

1. Limit the topics and stick to the agenda

Before calling any virtual or on-site meeting, think about what you want to discuss and set realistic expectations on how much can be achieved. It is best to limit the discussion topics to 2 or 3 as it will allow you to discuss them in more depth and without a rush. Also, if possible try to group similar topics together and hold them in separate meetings from other topics. This way, you will have to invite fewer people and make the meeting more focused.

Once the topics are picked, set an agenda and stick to it. Some off-topic questions may be answered, but try to steer clear of going into lengthy discussions on things that were not initially on the agenda. This way, you will ensure everyone in the meeting participates and feels like their time is respected.

2. Set a reasonable meeting duration

The next big improvement you can make to alleviate some of the virtual meeting stress and fatigue is actually making them shorter. Instead of scheduling every meeting in increasing half-hour increments, think about how much time do you actually need.

If you are unsure, try fitting your usual 30 minutes meeting into 20 minutes and see how that goes. Having a longer meeting does not necessarily mean you will get more done. On the contrary, knowing you have a fourth hour-long meeting ahead of you today can feel demotivating and tiresome even before it begins.

One more tip, if you feel like everything has been discussed, do not be afraid to end a meeting early. In fact, celebrate the fact that all of the participants were able to find a solution or agree upon one quicker than expected and can now go back to working on their tasks. 

3. Limit the number of people and check-in individually if needed

Lastly, make sure that only people that are needed for the meeting are invited. When working remotely most of us have varying work hours and making time for a meeting can take away from other activities or tasks. Imagine having put off something you really needed or wanted to do to only attend a meeting that could have been an e-mail.

Disappointment will inevitably set it and engagement in the next meeting will drop. So before you invite the whole project team to a meeting, think about what do you expect each person to bring and if they truly need to participate in the discussion, or can you inform them of the decisions afterward?

If the person is expected to only sit and listen, maybe they do not need to attend this meeting and can spend their time more efficiently. Instead of inviting everyone, use project management tools like Teamhood to visualize and track all of the processes. This way, everyone will be aware of what is going on and you can forget status meetings altogether.

Summary

Virtual meeting fatigue can be a real productivity killer when it comes to remote work environments. Make sure you do not overload your team with meetings by using visual project management solutions and only scheduling meetings when needed.



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