When the coronavirus pandemic began, video calls were heralded as a way for workers to connect and keep business relationships strong amid social distancing guidelines. Now it appears that excitement surrounding video-conferencing services may be wearing off.
Eight months into the pandemic, 38% of workers said they’ve experienced video call fatigue, according to new research from staffing company Robert Half.
Not only is the practice taking up time, but — in some cases — it’s leaving employees physically exhausted.
Video meetings hard for workers to avoid
More than 3 in 4 workers (76%) said they take part in virtual meetings. Some are spending significant time doing so. In fact, workers reported spending 30% of their day communicating on camera with co-workers or business associates.
For working parents, many of whom are juggling their professional duties with supervising their children’s virtual learning efforts, virtual meetings can be overwhelming. In fact, 1 in 4 working parents said they spend more than half of their work hours in virtual meetings.
Nearly half (47%) of women said they’re tired of videoconferencing, compared with 32% of men. Throughout the pandemic, women have been more likely to report negative effects than men. For example, another recent survey found that 56% of women were experiencing higher pandemic-related anxiety, compared with 43% of men. Some women have even considered leaving the workforce or reducing their workloads during the pandemic.
Some workers appear to find video calls to be more taxing than other work-related duties. Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents to the Robert Half survey said they find virtual meetings to be inefficient and exhausting, preferring to keep up with business contacts in other ways such as email or phone.
Videoconferencing’s drawbacks spark irritation
With more than a quarter of respondents (26%) admitting that video calls don’t feel as novel and practical as they did eight months ago, certain aspects of videoconferencing are more irritating to workers than others.
The most common complaint about videoconferencing was having to deal with technical issues, cited by 28% of respondents. Nearly 2 in 10 (19%) cited having to deal with too many meeting participants at a time and people talking over each other.
Earlier surveys have captured the frustration some workers are having with changes that the pandemic has forced upon communication practices. For example, a global survey this summer by technology consulting firm Adaptivist found that communicating with co-workers remotely has been particularly stressful, partly because workers feel like they have to be “always on” or available.
While it may be easy to get out of an in-person meeting if you have a conflict or are away from the office, some workers may find it more challenging to skip a meeting when all they have to do is click on a link on their computer or phone.
Methodology: Robert Half commissioned an independent research firm to survey more than 1,000 workers normally employed in office environments between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2, 2020.