Are you feeling wiped out at the end of a day after taking part in numerous online meetings? Then you could be suffering from Remote Meetings Fatigue (RMF). Yes, it is a phenomenon that has been identified in Microsoft’s second Work Trend Index report.
Research from Microsoft’s Human Factors Labs, which studies how humans interact with technology, suggests that remote work and video meetings tax our brains more than in-person work.
Microsoft scientists ran an experiment to understand how the brain responds to collaborating remotely through computer screens compared to in person. Thirteen teams of two completed similar tasks together – once in-person and then remotely – and EEG devices they were wearing monitored their brainwave changes. They discovered that the patterns linked to stress and overwork were much higher when collaborating remotely than in-person proving that people find remote collaboration more mentally challenging.
A second study then revealed that sustained concentration in video meetings also leads to fatigue. The study found that brainwave markers associated with overwork and stress are significantly higher in video meetings than non-meeting work. It also emerged that due to high levels of sustained concentration, fatigue begins to set in 30-40 minutes into a meeting. And on those days which are jam-packed with video meetings, stress begins to take hold about two hours into the day.
The research suggests several factors lead to meeting fatigue:
- Having to focus continuously on the screen to extract relevant information and stay engaged.
- Having fewer non-verbal cues to help you ‘read the room’ or know whose turn it is to talk.
- Screen sharing with a limited view of the people you’re interacting with.
To avoid remote meetings fatigue we recommend :
- Taking regular breaks every two hours to let your brain re-charge;
- Limit meetings to 30 minutes;
- Punctuate long meetings with small breaks.
- Sign up to Microsoft Teams’ new AI-powered Together mode and Dynamic view features
This mode combines decades of research and product development to put all meetings participants on a video call together in a virtual space, such as an auditorium, meeting room, or coffee shop. It conjures up the image of everyone being in the same place together – kind of like being remote, yet so close. Gone are the familiar Teams’ box grids, instead, Together mode gives the impression that everyone is looking at the entire group in a big virtual mirror, which makes it easier for everyone to see how they are responding to each other and fosters greater cohesion.
This view gives you more control over how you see shared content and other meetings participants, including the ability to see content and specific participants side-by-side.
And coming soon:
Microsoft is planning more Microsoft Teams upgrades to lighten the remote working load. Watch out for live reaction features with which you’ll be able to share your thoughts with emojis without interrupting a meeting, PowerPoint Live Presentations to Teams, and chat bubbles so you don’t have to keep a separate chat view open.