How many virtual meetings have you had in the past week on Zoom, Teams, or another online platform? Before the COVID19 pandemic forced us to self-isolate at home, I had an occasional Skype meeting. But since the pandemic the occasional has become anything but. At first these meetings were an interesting novelty, but I am hearing more and more complaints from people about being tired of online meetings. I did a survey on Twitter last week, and three-fours of those who responded said they have Zoom fatigue. In other words people hate online Zoom meetings?
Online Education and Remote Work Will Take over
You have heard the hype. Technology is going to make face-to-face education and face-to-face working obsolete. We will all study and work remotely from home. Trends have been moving in that direction as more and more students take online classes and more and more employees work remotely. But the number of us studying and working remotely has been a small minority. Then COVID19 hit and suddenly the small minority became a majority, and many have been speculating that after COVID19, we will continue our online existence. Now almost 6 months in, people are getting sick of being isolated at home. Suddenly the idea of our school and work existence becoming virtual is not so appealing
Remote Work As Social Isolation
Humans are social beings and we need interaction with other people. Yes, there are some people who are shy and prefer solitude, but most of us find it difficult to live entirely online. We feel socially isolated when we cannot be with people. This is why many of us enjoy going to school or a workplace. It is why college students are complaining about not having the campus experience, and many are demanding refunds.
Individual tasks can be efficiently done online. My observation is that online meetings are more on task, as people do less chit-chat before and after. In part this is because online meetings involve the entire group at once. Where in a live meeting, small groups of people might talk among themselves, this is difficult in the virtual meeting unless you create a breakout room, which does not encourage casual conversation. Further, online meetings inhibit networking and informal interactions that are common with live meetings. When I go to the office for a meeting, I do not only see those who attend. I will run into other people and have the opportunity to interact. These quick hall-way exchanges can be valuable for networking and sharing information. They enable you to build and maintain good working relationships with people. This is hard to do on line.
People Hate Online Zoom Meetings
Zoom fatigue means you are getting tired of having Zoom meetings, which are typically more numerous than live meetings because they are so easy to organize and hold. You want to be back on campus or at work so you can interact with others in person. You want to be able to greet your colleagues each day without having to organize a formal meeting. You want to be able to walk into someone’s office to ask a question. You want a change of scenery.
Online meeting platforms are a valuable tool that makes meetings more convenient. This is particularly important when people are geographically spread across the country or world. One positive byproduct of the pandemic is that all of us have learned how to use these tools. But online meetings cannot substitute for face-to-face interaction in the classroom and at work. Futurists can predict that technology will replace physical interaction, but they overlook that most people have the need to meet face to face in person and not just on screen.
Subscribe to my blog. Enter your e-mail and click SUBSCRIBE