Friday, June 14, 2024

How Technology Can Help Employees Combat Meeting Fatigue

Technology has been the key enabler for work and workplace communications, to continue beyond the realms of the traditional office environment over the last three years. However, as the lines between work and the home become increasingly blurred, employers need to be conscious of the potential knock-on effects to employees of phenomena such as meeting fatigue.

Indeed, in a recent survey, meeting fatigue was listed as the greatest challenge of remote working by over 30% of workers.

Why meetings have become so burdensome

It’s clear to see that employee productivity can be hindered by meetings, with 65% of workers saying that meetings keep them from completing their work. Meeting fatigue must therefore be addressed, to avoid a steep reduction in productivity or worse, damage to staff mental health.

The accumulation of back-to-back meetings (+252% since February 2020, according to Microsoft); the lack of notification or visibility, and the need to juggle different tasks or time zones, are all aggravating factors which can be detrimental to employee mental health. Technology can also be a source of complexity, adding further stress for employees. There’s a need to navigate from one tool to another; install new software; become familiar with different interfaces or configurations etc.

Impact of poor mental health on productivity

Increasing pressure around meetings can have a hugely negative impact on the way we work. With this pressure comes growing anxiety around a need to be ‘switched on’ all the time and ready to multitask and engage in different meetings at a variety of times, spanning a multitude of time zones.

Recent research from RingCentral revealed that over 20% of workers are less happy working now than they were before the pandemic. Furthermore, insights into pandemic-related burnout revealed that employees cited having to be “always on” as a reason for their stress.

It’s therefore essential that fatigue in employees is kept front-of-mind by management teams, from both a personal and commercial standpoint.

How can meeting fatigue be tackled for employees

Businesses must find ways to surmount challenges to employee mental health caused by remote working.

Fortunately, though, this is not an impossible task. There are numerous ways that companies can adjust working culture, using technology to aid the transformation.

One such example is AI generated summaries. When meetings clash with others or take place outside of working hours, they can instead be recorded and made available for quick consumption later on, either as a full transcript, summary in text or video format.

Cultural changes include putting stipulations on the maximum amount of time meetings should take or trying to encourage employees to meet less frequently. Other forms of communication, such as messaging, may suffice instead. Using effective communication solutions can help workers to get more out of their working hours while also protecting their personal time. Finally, ensuring all forms of communication – whether video, messaging, or phone calls – can be accessed in one place via a single app will help employees to avoid app fatigue and other problems associated with having to switch between multiple applications during the working day.

One way or another, we now live in a hybrid world and a significant part of our communication takes place online. With this new way of interacting comes a pressure to be “always on” and available but that in turn leads to fatigue. Solutions are however available.

Just as technology facilitated the workplace revolution, allowing people to work anytime, anywhere, technology can also help to eliminate the forms of stress that many experience in this new working environment.