It took a global pandemic to force the world into remote working and virtual meetings
Now science has proven what we’ve all been feeling ever since our working world moved online.
Zoom fatigue, a term used to explain the exhaustion people feel after a day on Zoom (or any online call platform), is real.
Here are five reasons why you’ll want to skip the next Zoom meeting in favour of stepping on the plane for your next business meeting:
“The face-to-face interaction of in-person meetings actually imposes far less pressure,” says Oz Desai, GM Flight Centre Business Travel. “When you’re on a remote meeting, there’s not much else to do besides talk constantly. Short silences, while normal in physical conversation, are much more pronounced and feel awkward online.”
A 2014 study on delays in communication showed that silences of even 1.2 seconds could shape our views of people negatively – making them appear unfriendly or unfocused. Also, being “on camera,” particularly in webinars or large group calls, is physically exhausting, knowing that everyone is focused entirely on how we’re performing during that space of time.
More effective meetings
While the ease of joining or scheduling a quick Zoom call cannot be underestimated, not all remote meetings are as effective as they could be in person. It may take more time to plan and execute in-person meetings, but they can lead to more successful outcomes.
This is even more vital when there are sensitive topics on the table. Humans are skilled in subconsciously picking up on small emotional clues and subtleties to express empathy, build trust and influence our decision making. Nonverbal clues such as minute facial expressions, posture, body language, gestures and even tone can be difficult to pick up on during a virtual meeting but are hugely important in helping us process information and establish rapport.
Research has shown that social connection in times of crisis is more critical than ever. Face-to-face meetings can prove more meaningful, indicating you’ve invested significant time and effort in the relationship.
In-person meetings are not only about the schedule on the table. Building strong rapport is integral to successful business relationships and paves the way for more beneficial results for all parties.
Building rapport is difficult, if not near possible, during remote meetings. There’s an emotional connection with meeting someone in person, along with the rituals of a meeting that put us at ease. The small talk before starting on the agenda, ordering a coffee together, walking to the water cooler and other little rituals create small bonding rituals. Even touch, such as shaking hands, has been proven to build trust. While physical contact is off limits now, meeting face to face is the next best thing.
Individuals are more likely to open up in person, leading to greater honesty and rapport.
Face to face is the real thing and allows you to experience the authenticity of personal connection.
No technology failures
Can you hear me? Please can all speakers mute? Face-to-face meetings eliminate the obvious technological disadvantages of remote meetings. With no poor video quality, buffering, poor lighting and questionable audio, face-to-face meetings run more smoothly and efficiently, giving you more time to focus on having successful meetings than worrying about whether the technology will fail.
Reduced ‘environmental’ concerns
Working from home has brought its fair share of challenges. Children in the background, partners also on meetings and work calls, pets that insist on getting face time too and a host of other environmental concerns add pressure to remote sessions.
It’s also significantly easier to understand one another face to face. Humans rely heavily on non-verbal clues such as hand gestures, how they’re facing you, body language and minute facial nuance.
For essential meetings, in particular those that have to run smoothly, face-to-face meetings far have far less environmental concerns and stressors.
In the meantime, here are five tips to make Zoom calls less tiring:
- Reduce meetings. Can it be an email or a shared online document instead?
- Schedule walking, audio-only calls for one-on-one sessions. Walking meetings are said to improve creativity and reduce the stress of a video call.
- Make meetings shorter. Stick to that 40-minute maximum time limit.
- Schedule “rest time” between meetings.
- Make the experience as pleasant as possible. Even small noises, such as typing or swallowing, can be picked up and amplified to others on the call, even if you can’t hear them. Test audio and video to ensure minimal distractions that will add to the mental fatigue of fellow attendees.
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