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Combat Remote Meeting Fatigue: 7 Tips

Working remotely means you run the risk of losing your energy— but we’ve provided 7 tips to help you combat remote meeting fatigue!

Only 40% of webinar attendees stay through the whole event, even if it’s super engaging. Why?

Well, long virtual activities can be exhausting. Especially when you have multiple back-to-back calls, or if you’re sitting in on virtual meetings you can’t be highly engaged in. These long virtual activities lead to feelings of distraction, tiredness, and lack of interest in the discussion topic. We call this meeting fatigue.

As remote and hybrid work environments become the norm for most workplaces, it’s important to be able to recognize what this remote meeting fatigue is and how to combat it so you can bring the best version of yourself into your role.

What is meeting fatigue?

Meeting fatigue is no one’s friend. Put simply, it’s a state of mind that occurs when employees have been over-attending virtual meetings. It feels quite similar to burnout and includes symptoms such as:

  • Feeling easily confused or overwhelmed
  • Being tired all the time or feeling like you’re going to doze off in every meeting
  • Having decreased motivation to participate in the conversation
  • Getting easily irritated by small requests and questions
  • Consistently not meeting personal needs like taking washroom breaks or eating a healthy meal

Run delightful remote meetings

Increase remote meeting engagement and productivity with a collaborative agenda that the whole team can contribute to. Try using a tool like Fellow!

Common causes of remote meeting fatigue

1Virtual communication cues

With in-person meetings, it’s easy to read the body language of the other meeting attendees, which can help you gauge how engaged team members are or if a break is needed. Even slight behaviors such as tapping feet or swivelling in a chair can be quickly noticed by the meeting host. However, virtual meetings require attendees to make bigger, more obvious movements to signal their engagement. Over multiple meetings in a row, attendees can become exhausted with the amount of effort going into proving their attention to the content. 

Alternatively, it’s also common for attendees to tune out completely by staying on mute with the camera off. In this case, there’s no ability to read body language and it makes it especially difficult to build an engaging meeting.

2Continuous focus time 

In remote and hybrid work environments, it’s common for employees to get stuck in back-to-back meetings as they no longer need to block time to run between physical meeting rooms or client offices. Essentially, as the commute time decreases, the available focus time increases. And without proactive schedule management practices in place, it’s easy for virtual meeting attendees to go almost the full day being “tuned in” to various conversations, eventually leading to mental fatigue

3Uncomfortable constant gaze

Where do you look when you’re in a virtual meeting? There’s no way to show someone that you’re specifically looking at them. So instead, you’re left either staring into the void of someone else’s camera-off screen or looking at yourself. Either way, it’s distracting and makes it harder to engage with your fellow meeting participants. 

Spending meeting after meeting starting into a void can be draining. Not only does it make you feel disconnected from the people on the call, but it also leads you to feel uninterested and tired. On the flip side, if you’re the one presenting in the meeting, you have no idea if viewers are following along or are completely zoned out.

4Lack of work-life balance

While working remotely has generally suggested that people are happier taking calls from home, it does also decrease the ability to create separation between work and personal needs. When teams rely on virtual meeting booking tools, it becomes easier for peers and clients to book any available time slot for a call. As a result, it’s easy to become overscheduled and miss out on time to eat, go for a walk, or go to the washroom.

7 tips to combat remote meeting fatigue

1Remember: no agenda, no attenda

Always, always, always have an agenda for your meeting! Building a meeting agenda helps you establish the purpose and structure of your meeting. Without a defined purpose, it’s highly likely that your meeting time will end up being wasted on topics that don’t drive growth or don’t help you select action items. An agenda will also keep you on track of important topics to cover within the time frame. This way, if you’re getting down a rabbit hole or losing track of time, you can rely on your agenda to bring you back to your main meeting focus. 

Pro tip: With Fellow’s browser extensions, you can access your meeting notes right inside of Google Meet calls and your Google Calendar to supercharge team meetings and 1-on-1 without leaving the tools that you are already using.

2Leverage asynchronous communication

Asynchronous meetings can be a great alternative to jumping on a ton of live calls every day. Not only do these meetings help your team remain flexible across multiple time zones and schedules, but they also allow members to add contributions when they’re low on social energy (after all, many meeting go-ers are introverted and would rather avoid as many live meetings as possible anyways). Implementing asynchronous communication is one of the newest people management trends in remote and hybrid work environments, so it may take your team some time to get used to this new way of interacting. 

3Have shorter, more efficient meetings

Most people tend to see the value in keeping meetings short—at least for the benefit of not having to drone on about the same topic over and over again. But, did you know that longer meetings also have a higher cost to the overall business? The cost of a meeting can be calculated by adding up the hourly wage of each person attending the meeting. So, as more executives and senior team members join your call, you’ll find the bill will begin to skyrocket!

How much do your meetings cost you per year? Use Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator to find out! 

4Be choosy with participants

By now, you know the cost-saving value that comes from selecting only the most necessary meeting participants. Another way to slim down your invite list is by thinking through who will be involved in decision-making conversations. With more participants than necessary, you increase the time it will take to reach a decision or thoroughly discuss an agenda topic.

Does your meeting invite list contain a lot of people who are only there to listen in? Consider asking these participants to no longer come to the meeting and to instead spend the meeting time working on a growth-driving activity. Then, you can share the meeting notes or a recording with them after so they still get the same information. 

5Schedule tech-free breaks 

Starting at a computer screen all day won’t build the most productive version of yourself, no matter how many meeting management or automation tools you use. What’s really going to drive your creativity and energy up is taking a few minutes away from your tech throughout the day. If you’re looking for an easy way to start doing this, consider trying the Pomodoro Technique. This practice works by breaking down a block of work into four 25-minute focus sections. Start with one 25-minute focus section on a specific task, then take a 5-minute tech-free break. After four cycles like this, take a bigger 30-minute break for a walk or to make yourself a snack!

6Socialize with your team outside of meetings

If you’re only connecting with your team during long, mentally exhausting meetings, you’ll start feeling like your team members are directly causing you to feel fatigued. If you get an opportunity to socialize with your team in other environments, you can build better trust and have more fun with them! Positive work relationships can also help your everyday meetings feel more engaging and lively, knowing that you have great coworkers with whom you actually enjoy working.  

7Reduce distractions (by working in a quiet space) 

Remote meeting fatigue can be accelerated when you’re trying to balance other things in addition to your load of meetings. For example, working in a busy coffee shop can be loud and you may have disruptive internet connections, which can make you feel further irritated. When you have more meetings, consider reducing the other distractions that you need to face so you can invest more of your energy in the meeting at hand. While this might not completely solve or prevent meeting fatigue if you have a high volume of calls in a day, it does help make dealing with those calls a lot more manageable. 

Parting advice

Working in a remote or hybrid setting has its perks and challenges—and connecting to virtual meetings is one of them. While it’s more convenient to tune in from anywhere, you risk interrupting your work-life balance or getting drained from overscheduling yourself. Hopefully, these tips can help you prevent and reduce remote meeting fatigue in your role, allowing you to present the best version of yourself every day!

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About the author

Alexandria Hewko

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