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The term "Meeting fatigue" has become more common as we've shifted to having numerous online appointments. It's also referred to as "Zoom fatigue" since it has intensified with the rise of remote work. Whether the meetings are face-to-face or via platforms like Teams, Meeting fatigue is prevalent in both cases. It contributes to stress, reduced effectiveness, and satisfaction.
We'll explore a few reasons why this happens and provide tips on how you and your colleagues can prevent it:
Obvious but excessive meetings lead to multiple issues. During the pandemic, the number of meetings increased by 20% according to Harvard, and while it hasn't remained that high, the meeting count is still 13.5% higher than before the pandemic.
This means there's less time to accomplish the same amount of work. Employees might feel stressed, guilty, or try to compensate by working overtime. In the long run, this isn't beneficial for individuals or the company.
Another contributing factor is that meetings often go longer than necessary. This might be due to a lack of clear objectives. Discussions unintentionally drag on, and conversations go in circles. Lengthy meetings are costly, sapping everyone's energy and focus that they'd rather devote to meaningful work.
Meetings are often scheduled back-to-back. The lack of breaks contributes significantly to meeting fatigue. Participants have no time to recuperate, process information, and prepare for the next meeting. This becomes overwhelming and leads to tension once again.
This is also referred to as Meeting Recovery Syndrome (MRS). Everyone needs time to recover from an intensive meeting. For meetings that aren't efficient and goal-oriented, the recovery time is even longer. The consequence is that employees spend a significant part of their day recovering before they can fully focus on tasks. This recovery period might even extend to the next day, especially after a long day filled with meetings.
When meetings are not inclusive and fail to consider differences, it's possible that some individuals dominate the conversation while others don't get a chance to speak. This might occur because people are unintentionally biased, the meeting structure doesn't allow equal participation or there are dominant participants.
This can lead to frustration and stress surrounding meetings. Additionally, it could create long-term tensions among colleagues.
In addition to the significance for employees' mental well-being, from a business perspective, this is a missed opportunity. Embracing diverse input allows you to better serve all your customers, and possibly even reach customers you otherwise wouldn't have.
Sometimes, a meeting isn't the right tool for the desired objective. Meetings are suitable for reviews or sharing information. When it comes to collaboration, well-prepared workshops are more appropriate. This prevents endless discussion about a problem and ensures that steps are taken to resolve the issue.
In this context, it's crucial that workshops are structured in a way that produces tangible outcomes. Otherwise, the workshop might be enjoyable, but it still doesn't achieve the desired result.