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Remote working has provided workers with numerous benefits to their work/life balance, but there are some downsides to working from home.
New research published by RedRex – an innovative group of web developers – has revealed virtual meetings to be something of a thorn in the side of remote working. While many virtual meetings are necessary for communication, the research discovered that a significant amount of workers find that the frequency of meetings wastes time, causes stress and digital fatigue while reducing productivity.
The Rise of Video Conferencing Software
The pandemic obviously saw a big increase in remote working and thus the apparent need for more virtual meetings, though video conferencing has actually been increasing year on year since 2000. In fact, RedRex discovered that time spent in video meetings has risen by 8-10% each year since the turn of the millennium. By 2020, the percentage of remote workers using video conferencing technology had reached 48%, with that number rising dramatically to 77% by 2022.
Now, 83% of employees spend up to one-third of their work week in video meetings. Interestingly, 55% say they have more meetings now than they did when working entirely in the office.
It is not just one-off meetings either, but multiple meetings throughout a week and even throughout a single day. Up to 35% of remote workers say they have multiple virtual meetings per week, with 17% saying they have multiple virtual meetings per day.
How Virtual Meetings Waste Time
Productive meetings are not the issue, of course, but unfortunately few meetings seem to be described as thus by remote workers. The research by RedRex revealed that 71% of workers believed that their work time was often wasted due to unnecessary or canceled meetings.
Diving deeper into the research and it becomes easier to see exactly why so many remote workers feel virtual meetings waste their time. The simple act of waiting for meetings to start costs rank and file workers around 11 minutes per meeting, which adds up to three days per year. The time wastage is even worse for senior executives who lose around 16 minutes per meeting, which adds up to nearly six days per year.
Add on top of this the 30 minutes that 40% of workers spend searching for the right link to join a meeting. Also, consider that 42% of remote workers contribute nothing to each meeting.
An average of 31 hours per month is spent in unproductive meetings, with 56% of remote workers actively wanting to reduce how much time they spend in virtual meetings.
Wasted or unproductive time is not the only issue though.
Increased Stress and Digital Fatigue
The constant virtual meetings endured by remote workers have significantly increased stress and brought us a new issue to contend with in the form of digital fatigue.
Remote workers cite the main causes of digital fatigue as meetings running too long (56%), staring at screens for long periods (52%), meetings having no purpose (49%), and constant eye contact (35%).
RedRox discovered the reasons for increased stress levels were due to the larger faces on-screen minimizing the sense of personal space, while our own faces also on-screen increased self-awareness and anxiety. The lack of mobility during a virtual meeting was also a significant contributory factor.