What is Meeting Fatigue and How to Prevent It?

Dissatisfied employee with his head on the disk.

The modern workplace is becoming demanding, with employees expected to continuously context switch and juggle multiple high-stakes projects. The outcome: meeting fatigue, resulting in decreased productivity, morale and engagement. This is a common issue that affects many companies globally and it’s time for employers to understand the root causes and find ways to counter it.

What causes meeting fatigue?

Meeting fatigue, as the name suggests, is the feeling of tiredness and exhaustion, both mental and physical, from too many meetings that go on for too long, and is made worse when there is a lack purpose or structure. While the pandemic is responsible for accelerating the number and the severity of cases, meeting fatigue has been around well before we were all forced to set up our home offices. Some of the common causes include: poor audio and video quality, back-to-back scheduling of meetings, context switching, lack of breaks and constant disruption from deep work.

So, what can be done to counter meeting fatigue? Here are 6 non-negotiables for every remote team:

#1 Limit the number of meetings

Make sure that meetings are only held when absolutely necessary and kept as short as possible. This will reduce the time employees spend in meetings, giving them more time to focus on their individual tasks and projects.

#2 Clear meeting purpose and structure
Make sure that each meeting has an agenda and that the agenda is followed. This will ensure that meetings are focused on specific topics and that they are productive.

#3 Punctual meeting start and end times

Make sure all meetings begin at the time they are scheduled and end no later than the allocated time. Late starts and over-running meetings can disrupt work schedules and create frustration amongst teams.

#4 Give employees time to engage in deep work
Make sure that employees have uninterrupted time to work on their individual tasks and projects, so that they don’t feel like their time is constantly being taken away from them.

#5 Encourage employees to take breaks
Breaks can help to reduce stress and improve morale. Exercise is a great way to break away from work and get some much-needed fresh air.

#6 Provide employees with the correct tools and resources
Make sure that employees have the tools and resources they need to be successful so that they don’t feel like they are constantly having to reinvent the wheel. This can include access to technology, training, and support.

Meeting fatigue can have a serious impact on employee morale and productivity. By taking proactive steps to prevent meeting fatigue, employers and managers can play a major role in optimising team engagement and productivity.