Meeting Fatigue

16 July 2021 Giles Keay

Jonas Leupe 7 Ri1 Yk Ib Cdi Unsplash

​So maybe you are in lockdown 2.0 in Sydney (or if you are on the Northern Beaches like me, Lockdown 3.0 or in Victoria and had Lockdown 5.0) or maybe you are elsewhere in Australia feeling grateful not to be in Sydney!   Wherever you are and whatever the number of lockdowns you have experienced and hence working from home, it certainly does feel like Deja Vu and that we have been here before!!

In reality we are now 15 months since the initial lockdowns began and we are now very used to virtual meetings on whatever platform you or your business loves, doing home-schooling (I am currently sat at the kitchen table with my 10 year old whilst he is doing his daily classes and I must admit I am so impressed with the school for their organisation and efficiency is stepping straight back into it once again), we even did a virtual quiz night with friends last weekend which really took us all back to 2020!

The fact of the matter is that our new normal and way of working will almost always now have some amount of ability of WFH no matter what you do.  We are also seeing some high levels of migration continuing to regional areas meaning that many of us will not even be in proximity to our old corporate offices.

I saw some statistics from Employment Hero a week or so ago in which their research found that 94% of people wish to have some level of WFH in their normal week and at present 72% are WFH to some extent. 

So with all this in mind the one thing we know is that Video Conferencing will be in our lives for as long as we can predict.... whether that is on the PC or the mobile or possibly Holograms in the future!  What I have found is like all technology its ease of use and access means that there are fewer boundaries which ultimately has the ability to take over your days and evenings if you do not manage it correctly.

I have witnessed it myself, heard from clients and candidates that I speak to, and also seen many friends suffer over the last 15 months with what can only be described as "Meeting Fatigue".   You call someone at 6pm in the evening and they tell you they just got off their 8th meeting of the day....  It is not unusual now for individuals to spend 6 hours plus online in meetings and group conversations, 5 days a week, the impact of this on our health can be huge causing. 

  • Eye Strain

  • Tiredness

  • Higher levels of stress

  • Headaches

  • Feeling of lack of time

  • Encroachment into personal space

 It also has an impact on the individual’s ability to be productive in their role, by stopping and starting for meetings it can highly disrupt the momentum of the day taking the individual away from other tasks they may have been required to achieve.  This can then put further pressure on this being completed in the employees own personal time because the day is full of VC meetings!

I believe there is also a major loss is the lack of creativity for individuals as they are going from one call to another without having time to pause and be able to digest and contemplate what they are trying to achieve and to have the headspace to be able to think about what solutions and ideas could improve the business. You have to give space for creativity to breathe.

When we all worked in offices there were so many natural breaks that we did not even realise that we are having. 

  • Travel to and from meetings - it was also a great time to catch up with colleagues

  • No gaps between meetings as it is a click of a button- able to transition with people in reception whilst you catch your breath

  • Most people appear to be having shorter or no lunch breaks

  • No smoko's!

  • A lack of exercise breaks at lunchtimes - team and office sport etc.

  • The casual stop and chat in the kitchen

  • The quick conversations at people’s desk often removing the need for a formal meeting

 

There are a number of “Tips” to help with reducing the impacts of this meeting fatigue and we have tried to provide a few to help you navigate this ever-present issue.

 

  1. Try to book only the amount of time needed to discuss the specific work required - do not automatically book in an hour or half hour. If you can discuss in 45, 20 or 15 for example then book that instead to ensure you are not spending more time than necessary

  2. Ensure that you insert 15-minute breaks between meetings.

  3. Be punctual with finishing your meeting at the correct time - often a reminder can flash on the screen. By not being punctual you can often roll from one meeting to another.

  4. Make sure that you are only doing the meeting if really necessary - just because it is online your time is no less important - do not do meetings for meetings sake.

  5. Ensure you prepare an agenda as you would for a F2F - no matter how brief - Share it beforehand. Hopefully, this will stop you from going round the houses and extending them longer than necessary.

  6. If you are fortunate enough to have someone to organise your diary. do not be afraid to speak to them and explain the need for you to have breaks and to be honest about why.

 

This is an ongoing issue that everyone really needs to be aware of, it is staying, pandemic or no pandemic, so we must all understand the impacts and also the need to follow some basic rules to make it work for you and everyone you engage with.

I hope that this is a useful post and that it can ensure not only an improvement in your mental health but also an increase in your productivity and creativity.

Good luck

Giles