Virtual meeting fatigue, also known as "Zoom fatigue," has become a widely discussed topic in remote work, with more employees reportedly getting burnt out by video conferencing.
A report by Metrigy revealed that 82% of organizations use video conferencing for all or most of their meetings. To further show how far virtual meetings have come, Gartner projects that only 25% of business meetings will occur physically by 2024.
With virtual meetings predicted to maintain an uptrend in the coming years, it has become more crucial for leaders to face the realities of virtual meeting fatigue and bring a lasting solution.
This guide will discuss what virtual meeting fatigue is, its causes, and some proven solutions you can implement to host better video meetings.
What’s Virtual Meeting Fatigue and Why Should You Care?
Virtual meeting fatigue, also known as Zoom fatigue, is the general feeling of burnout and mental exhaustion resulting from prolonged involvement in virtual meetings.
A 2021 study by Virtira Consulting revealed that nearly half of individuals working remotely (49%) reported a level of burnout as a result of being on webcams for long hours. When you consider that most employees (63%) now attend more meetings online than they would have in their physical workplace, it is easy to see why virtual meeting fatigue is on the rise.
When virtual meeting fatigue sets in, employers risk experiencing a drop in productivity, reduced work satisfaction, poor collaboration, irritability, and physical strain among their employees.
Causes of Virtual Meeting Fatigue
According to Pew Research Center, one out of every four workers say they get worn out by prolonged virtual meetings.
But before we discuss viable solutions to virtual meeting fatigue, let us identify its root causes.
Too Many Meetings
After monitoring the brainwave patterns of volunteers from small, medium, and large enterprises, researchers at Human Factors Lab found that participants begin to experience fatigue 30 to 40 minutes into virtual meetings.
For days filled with multiple meetings, employees start feeling fatigued two hours into the day. Clearly, holding multiple meetings in one day is not only hectic but can also cause a dip in long-term productivity.
Boredom and Feeling of Isolation
Traditional virtual meeting apps usually provide just enough tools to help employers schedule and run meetings. But most times, these aren’t just enough as employees experience very low engagement during meetings, battle with boredom, and struggle to concentrate the entire time.
Also, because participants are scattered across different locations, there is a need to curb the feeling of isolation that can occur during remote work. Many traditional virtual meeting apps treat this like an afterthought and don’t provide enough solutions to foster a sense of community and presence among remote teams.
When employees feel isolated, their motivation becomes low, they’re barely engaged during meetings, and the chances of fatigue become amplified.
Many virtual meeting platforms have inferior collaboration features—only paying the most attention to video and audio functionalities. Thus, to build a fully-fledged remote work ecosystem for their teams, most employers use separate tools for collaboration and communication.
For instance, they might use a different platform for creating and editing shared documents while using a virtual meeting platform for discussions and brainstorming sessions.
The lack of a unified working environment makes the team scatter work and communication across siloed apps. A unified working environment enables the team to collaborate and communicate in real-time all within one place.
On the contrary, the lack of a unified working environment results in employees jumping on and off video calls multiple times a day. This increased number of video calls can burn them out over time.
Proven Tips for Ending Virtual Meeting Fatigue
As the world becomes more aware of virtual meeting fatigue and how it threatens the success of remote collaboration, experts have proffered several solutions to help company executives bring this condition to an all-time low.
Here are some proven tips you can implement to get your remote team back on track.
Make Your Meetings More Engaging
Employees can quickly get bored if your meetings are too formal and unengaging. And when boredom sets in, it won’t be long before fatigue follows.
You can make your virtual meetings engaging by removing elements that make them appear too formal. Encourage a sense of community among the team, leverage non-video features (texts, emoji reactions, and in-app chats), icebreakers and “unofficial starts,” and so on.
Modern virtual meeting apps help employers boost engagement easily by incorporating functionalities that make virtual meetings more fun and relatable (more on this soon).
Cut Down on Meetings
The research by Human Factors Lab (discussed above) showed how prolonged meetings could lead to fatigue by triggering spikes in gamma and beta brainwaves. These waves are responsible for cognitive functions, memory, and information processing. But when they’re elevated, they can induce anxiety, irritability, and stress.
A follow-up study by the same team revealed that the brain was able to withstand these waves and remained productive when participants were allowed to take breaks in-between meetings.
Following this, experts recommend including breaks in your meetings, or better still, only schedule them when they’re absolutely necessary. If you can get the same results over text chats with individual employees or a smaller group, you should probably do so.
That way, your employees will have fewer chances of burning out.
Switch to an Engaging Virtual Meeting App Like Gather
Traditional virtual meeting platforms are notorious for causing virtual meeting fatigues because they weren’t built to suit the modern, remote work ecosystem. But that’s what sets Gather apart.
Gather is designed to make remote work fun without compromising on company values, collaboration, and productivity.
With fully customizable 2D virtual environments, the platform brings a unique twist to remote work and virtual meetings. Gather allows you and your team to build a virtual workspace that matches your company culture and spreads a sense of community among your remote workforce.
Each team member exists in the virtual workspace as an animated avatar that can interact with virtual objects and other avatars (teammates).
With private spaces, members of a Gather office can split into smaller groups and collaborate without disturbing the rest of the team, thereby reducing the need for meetings. Team members can also share resources, brainstorm ideas on whiteboards, and even play games all in one place.
This is a game-changer for organizations looking to crush virtual meeting fatigue, ramp up productivity, and hit new milestones with their remote team.
“The casual nature of the platform makes interaction more seamless and warm than Zoom calls; Zoom fatigue be gone" — Kavir Kaycee.
Try a fatigue-free meeting today
Virtual meeting fatigue is real and rampant. However, it can be fixed by implementing straightforward solutions. We hope the tips we've discussed will prove helpful as you work towards making your remote team more engaged and productive.
If you’re looking to supercharge collaboration, improve relationships, and ultimately build a remote work environment where fatigue is at an all-time low, then you need to move your entire team to Gather.