HR Tech Number of the Day: Virtual meeting fatigue

54%: Percentage of employees surveyed who said they’re attending more meetings virtually than they had in-person

More than a year after the pandemic started, “Zoom fatigue” is continuing to plague employees.

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According to a new survey from intelligent workplace solution Beezy, 54% of respondents are attending more meetings today, now that they’re virtual, than they did when they worked in an in-office setting. In fact, 41% of those participants are attending between four and seven additional meetings per week.

And, according to the research, they’re not happy about it. One-third said the increased frequency of meetings is unnecessary and unproductive, while nearly half said technology issues disrupt at least two of their meetings per week. A full 85% of employees surveyed said they would still be able to successfully complete their jobs with fewer virtual meetings.

What virtual meeting fatigue means to HR leaders

Traditionally, the physical workplace allowed employees and leaders to connect–both personally and professionally. But the shift to remote has also shifted the balance in employee interaction toward largely work-related communication, says Mike Hicks, chief marketing officer at Beezy.

And, given that Beezy research has found that 85% of employees believe their company is monitoring their activity while they’re remote, they’re facing added pressure to demonstrate productivity, including through video meetings.

“What’s suffering here is workplace culture and engagement because, with so many meetings, there’s little room for much else,” Hicks says. More than half of survey respondents said they’re struggling to feel connected and engaged with their work, while more than 40% are lacking a sense of camaraderie with co-workers. “In the shift to remote work, people have lost those all-important connections, and organizations have lost their personalities.”

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There are some steps that organizations, guided by their HR leaders, can take to balance communication in the new workplace, Hicks says. First, leaders should understand the resistance to excessive virtual meetings and be encouraged to set an example in how they communicate. Additionally, they can demonstrate to employees that the work communication that is happening virtually doesn’t all need to be work-focused.

“Share photos of pets, comment on someone’s vacation update or participate in a conversation about cooking,” Hicks suggests. “We need to make our digital workplaces more human places, where personal connections are as valued as our professional outputs.”

See also: 3 strategies for meaningful engagement long-term

Organizations also need to invest in the technology to power hybrid or remote working environments where culture isn’t lost, he adds.

“We’ve got the technology to make it all possible in a way that’s seamless and intuitive–so now it’s on business leaders to make culture a priority,” Hicks said. “The gap between the organizations doing these things well and the ones who don’t continue to widen. And the ones falling behind will see the impact on retention, recruitment, productivity and overall employee engagement.”

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected].