Pandemic or not, businesses need to review plans for this year and plan for next year.
Leadership teams must think through how the world has changed and how they will respond to thrive and grow regardless. Teams must breakdown their goals and build collaborative plans to meet or exceed them. So, planning must proceed and, while we are all rapidly becoming very well acquainted with the technology to connect virtually, we are missing the core techniques and tools that can transition a virtual meeting into a virtual planning "off-site."
We are in the early days of this pandemic, and already virtual meeting (VM) burnout is pervasive. What is causing such high levels of VM burnout so quickly?
Here are the top three causes we see:
- It is exhausting to sit still and stare at a screen. Being in this stagnant position, with a never-changing focal length gets uncomfortable and is so unnatural! Unlike in a meeting room, where you can shift your eyes down at the tabletop, over to the person sitting next to you (remember that?) or to the presenter or screen at the far end of the room, in VMs we are tethered to our computer screens and often to a static (sitting) position.
- VMs are technically time-consuming. While each participant gets connected, is personally oriented to the format, or walked through resolving technology issues, every other participant is waiting. If this were a meeting room, and the meeting leader needed to address a single person’s problem, they would announce, "Sorry, folks, we are having technical difficulties. Just talk among yourselves until we are ready." Sometimes that break and the resulting chitchat makes the meeting more buoyant, and when reconvened, the meeting room is full of high energy. The idle time VM participants experience drains their focus and contributes to their hesitance when invited to participate in more or extended VM sessions.
- Finally, for those with more introverted preferences, large group meetings are stressful. In meeting rooms, these folks often grab a seat at a table in the back of the room and bury their head in their phone before stepping up to the catering table to grab a cup of coffee. In a VM setting, there is no back table. The meeting starts, and there they are - full-faced just like everyone else. Although these are remote meetings, they have an enhanced social intensity that will completely drain most introverts and tire the most extroverted in your group. The VM "fishbowl" is adding to fatigue and burnout week after week.
As I said, planning must go on, even as we work in home or remote settings. Plan to combat virtual meeting burnout as you launch this year's planning meetings.