The most common video conference pet peeves

Are you sick of Zoom meetings yet? It turns out that many Canadians are.

A new study from staffing firm Robert Half shows that video calls are starting to grate on workers. Almost three-quarters of professionals surveyed (72 per cent) said they participate in regular virtual meetings. Those respondents reported spending about a quarter of their workday (24 per cent) on camera with their business contacts or coworkers.

Nearly half (44 per cent) told the surveyors that they have experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic. One reason might be that there are simply too many calls. The majority of participants (59 per cent) said that while video calls can be helpful, they are not always necessary.

The biggest annoyances?

    – Dealing with technical issues (33 per cent). Many workers find themselves twiddling their thumbs daily as other call participants struggle to connect and fumble with audio and video settings before the actual meeting can even begin. You think we’d have this figured out by now, but I have yet to attend a single video conference where at least on person was dealing with technical glitches.

    – Too many participants (19 per cent). Video meetings can be great for team updates and small groups. Company-wide conferences are another matter altogether. When there are too many participants, the number of technical glitches, people signing in and out, and sheer volume of distractions becomes amplified. Attendees with important questions may not have the opportunity to ask them, while others take up precious time receiving a great deal of information that is not relevant to their specific work.

    – People talking over each other (19 per cent). It can be difficult to get a word in during a conference at the best of times. People have to leap in with their ideas during unstructured conversations. It isn’t clear when it is your turn to talk. On a video call, the slight time lags, poor speaker or microphone quality, and talking to a screen of remote images rather than people who are physically present, all exacerbate the situation. People speak at the same time, stop, apologize, then both start again. It’s a vicious cycle.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, many remote workers relied on video calls to stay connected and collaborate with one another,” said David King, Canadian senior district president of Robert Half. “However, as teams continue to work from home, frequent virtual meetings may not be as efficient and necessary.”

Tips for mitigating the biggest pet peeves

    Test your technology before the call. Check your computer’s camera, microphone and internet connection. Close any programs that you won’t be using during the call to increase your bandwidth and reduce your temptation to multitask while the conference is underway.

    Limit the meeting to the essential attendees. Small groups calls tend to be more effective and engaged than broad get-togethers. Once a person tunes out of a call, it can be challenging to get their full attention back. Make sure that everyone you invite has something valuable to contribute or needs to hear the entire discussion. Shorter, focussed meetings are more efficient than longer, all-encompassing calls.

    Set expectations from the get-go. Share an agenda for the meeting and supporting materials in advance so participants can prepare. During the discussion, capture notes and action items to share in a recap. For group discussions, have a round table, where each participant speaks in turn. This way everyone can share their input and ask their questions without being cut off or having people talking over each other.

See also: The most annoying people on a video call (and how to avoid being one of them)

The survey from Robert Half was conducted from October 27 to November 2, 2020. It includes responses from 500 workers normally employed in office environments Canada.

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