Is Video Conferencing Draining Our Productivity?

“As most of us have now experienced working from home, we’re all pretty familiar with video conferencing. Whether your preferable platform is Skype, Zoom or Teams, speaking to colleagues and clients online is the new norm. Fostering a more transactional exchange and removing the struggles of arranging a meeting in person, video conferences are often perceived as more efficient than face-to-face ones.

However, there are still drawbacks which cause people to question whether or not using video conferencing apps limit our productive energy. Whilst they may solve the inefficiencies of in person meetings, many argue that actually they cause fatigue and can make us feel unproductive. We’re going to explore video conferencing and question whether or not it does drain our productivity.

Technical Issues
The first factor that seriously affects the fluidity of our meeting experience is the never ending technical issues that come automatically paired with video conferencing. A weak connection can immediately cause problems, affecting the quality of our video and microphone systems, which essentially provide us with an infuriating meeting experience. Whilst waiting for colleagues to get their camera and microphones working, the technical issues can really have a big impact on the energy input on the calls. It also takes away the general ‘buzz’ you get from meeting face-to-face.

Zoom Fatigue
A real issue many of us face when working from home is the classic Zoom fatigue. This new phrase is used to describe how virtual communication can be extremely taxing for the human brain. When working from home, employees have to focus much more intently in video meetings than physically. It’s difficult to ask questions without feeling that you;re being disruptive and you can’t always rely on your colleagues for a quiet side conversation. Zoom can sap your energy, causing many to feel that they’re not as productive as they could be.

Communication and Collaboration
When working from home, we cannot communicate to coworkers the way we would in person. Though yes, video conferencing tools are available, meetings have to be scheduled in advance. Thus, the usual office banter is typically lost. When working in the office you are surrounded by coworkers, who are all available to input into the conversation without the need to send an email invitation. And remember, with communication comes collaboration. It’s a lot more difficult to be collaborative through video conferences, hence reducing levels of productivity.

Take a look at these Creative Ways To Stay Connected To Coworkers When Working Remotely for some inspiration.

On Mute and Camera Off
When using video conferencing apps, it’s incredibly easy to mute yourself and switch your camera off. However, doing so can impact the way that you’re perceived by your employer and fellow colleagues. There can be an unspoken sense that you’re hiding, which is not ideal. When meeting in person, there is no place to hide, often forcing you to contribute new ideas into the meeting. Whilst you may prefer turning off your camera every now and then, this can hinder your ability to put your foot forward and engage with the meeting, meaning a drop in productivity.

Moving Forward
There are many reasons why video conferencing can hinder productivity, but it is also important to bear in mind the ways that you can change it. Turn your camera on for each meeting, and try to stay as engaged as possible. Keep your meetings short and sweet, to avoid the much dreaded Zoom fatigue. And finally, remember to schedule colleague meetings, so that you can have the collaboration sessions which are missed when working from home. As restrictions start to ease, it will be interesting to assess where people move forward – will the world become one of video conferencing, one of in person meetings, or both?
Read some of our top tips for Working at Home Productively