Why video calls are so exhausting (and what you can do about it)
You hit snooze on the alarm clock, hoping for 10 more minutes of bliss before the day begins. Day though, is a misnomer; there are no days anymore, only 24 hour cycles dominated by video conferences and feelings of solitude. Wait, when was the last time you showered?
It’s no secret that video calls are on the rise. As millions of people are forced to work in home offices, bedrooms, and at the dining room table, collectively we’re reaching a tipping point. Exhaustion is taking over. “When we’re on all these video calls all day long, we’re kind of chained to a screen,” said Suzanne Degges-White, a licensed counselor at Northern Illinois University, in a comment to USA Today. “It’s just psychologically off-putting. I’ve got to show up again, but the thing is, we’re not really showing up anywhere.”
There are a number of reasons behind our video fatigue, like having a dozen (or more) people on a single call to focus on, each stumbling over each other as they attempt to speak. Others are worried about their appearance and don’t like to view their own video feed when looking at a grid of others. Some say that it requires more focus and mental energy, mostly due to the fear of missing things or misunderstanding a talking point.
A number of the reasons these calls are so exhausting is actually due to the design of the human body itself. For one thing, we’re not meant to sit still for an hour or more at a time, listening intently while someone else speaks. Conversations are transactional, give and take.
We’re also missing a lot of the nonverbal cues we’re used to taking in during an in-person conversation. Subtle eye movements, or the way hands are positioned, for example, allow us a greater sense of “feel” over how the conversation is moving. On video, we actually waste a decent amount of energy just trying to interpret human intent without the cues we would normally pick up automatically.
Finally, the number of meetings are on the rise. Companies hold more than 11 million meetings a day in the US alone. 50 percent of these meetings are pointless, according to a UNC Charlotte study, costing US companies more than $37 billion annually.
So how do we fix it?
Limiting video calls is perhaps the best option. Turning video on should be optional, in most cases, and using a phone to dial in when necessary could give you the opportunity to move around, or even sit outside and take in the sun.
This fatigue is also alleviated, in some sense, by retaining a sense of normalcy as you would if you were still working in an office. Use a few minutes to check in on your colleagues and their well-being. Human connection goes a long way in minimizing the feeling of talking to a box for hours on end.
You should also try to avoid multitasking. Meetings are draining enough without trying to focus on more than one job at the same time.
Each of these will help to reset your brain after another long day of these video meetings. But one of the best options is to leave the most taxing parts of your meeting to something more capable of doing the job: artificial intelligence.
AudioCodes appears to be exploring exactly this: looking for ways to make meetings not only more efficient, but less exhausting.
In Meeting Insights, Mia — the digital voice assistant — helps to capture things you might otherwise miss: like action items, decisions made, and a meeting summary. She does this automatically, using state-of-the-art Voice.AI technology that captures, organizes, and shares meeting content with key team members. After the meeting, Mia can send you a full summary, including a written transcript to reference later.
Meeting Insights isn’t just about Mia, either. Team members can view entire archived video calls later, all with a built-in search feature to find exactly what you’re looking for. Viewing meetings later allows for those who have scheduling conflicts — or those on the other side of the world, for example — to tune into these meetings when it’s convenient for them. The ability to check in, and check out of a long meeting does wonders for decreasing fatigue, and ensuring that team members are only in the meetings they need to be a part of. Better still, instead of listening in on a two hour video call, you can now just search the parts that are relevant to your team, including action items.
The easiest way to avoid video meeting strain is to avoid them in the first place. That, however, isn’t an option under the best of circumstances. These days, in our work-at-home society, it’s nearly impossible. But when you can’t avoid a meeting, artificial intelligence could be the answer you’re looking for. Give Meeting Insights a try for two months free, here.