Is being overbooked on Zoom meetings affecting employee mental health?

3.8k views7 Upvotes6 Comments

Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
Since March of 2020, when we all switched over to digital, the number of meetings has gone up exponentially, right? Everyone is double or triple booked. Employees are really, really struggling to keep up with not only attending a lot of meetings in the day but also logging in longer hours afterwards to be more productive. Because when they're in the meeting, they can't actually do the work that they're supposed to do. We used to have this to a certain extent when we were physically in offices, but it's suddenly swung the pendulum to the other side entirely because the barrier to entry for setting up a meeting is so low. You just have to click a video conferencing button, and then automatically, you have a session created. You don't have to contend now for conference rooms or transition time. 

I recently conducted a survey, across all industry verticals, on meeting overload. This was not just organizations that were in the cloud-native space, but people who had a legacy footprint or who were in warehouses and that had to go to a digital footprint immediately: people in retail, in hospitality, in travel, all the various sectors. I suspected this but what I found was alarming. Over 65% of the respondents reported that they had been spending at least five hours in video conference per day on average. Five hours. And over 82% of the workforce reported that they were double- or triple-booked at least once a week. I think almost a quarter of them said that they experienced this meeting contention at least once a day. With so many hours of work being spent in video conferencing meetings, they were starting to log in more time because all their performance metrics and productivity are measured by their throughput or velocity or the number of widgets they create. So their OKRs and their KPIs did not change, but how they worked fundamentally shifted.

Almost 88% of the respondents said that, on average, they were spending at least four additional hours per week to catch up with their deliverables, and I want to say almost 65% of the people spent more than one and a half hours a day. So that's 7.5 hours a week, nearly an additional day of work just to catch up, because of the meetings and the conferences. And if you extrapolate it, that's two-thirds of our workforce worked almost 300 extra hours since the pandemic broke out. During that time, the pay didn't increase, expectations didn't change, but the amount of work people received increased, and stress skyrocketed. One of the easiest ways to reduce the stress and make sure that your people are healthier and have tangible results is tackling this sprawl.
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Yes, I think Zoom fatigue is real for sure.
Chief Information Officer in Manufacturing, 10,001+ employees
It is real and it has effected productivity. People are so overwhelmed with Zoom meetings that they don't have time to focus on their responsibilities. We have instituted two afternoons a week where we don't schedule meetings and require an agenda for meetings to make sure they are relevant and stick to the time.  I will schedule a hour meeting knowing I will give attendees 30 minutes back to them.
Chair and Professor, Startup CTO in Education, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Another consequence is that people log into Zoom meetings but minds are on something else. It is not productive at all. I felt someday we will have to return to the office in order to be more productive.
2 1 Reply
Director of Product Management in Software, 10,001+ employees

Great observation, Chris!  Do you ever call people out on that?  Or share that feedback in private?

Director of Technology Strategy in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
Is the problem too many zoom meetings, or too many meetings in general?

Because I would argue that many organizations have a problem with meeting culture, but it hasn't been addressed.

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