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Virtual Meetings Interrupt the Working Day, Survey Finds

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A recent survey by Robert Walters, the recruitment firm, has revealed that nearly three quarters of British professionals believe virtual meetings hinder their productivity, raising concerns about “virtual burnout.”

More than half of the professionals surveyed reported that virtual meetings “regularly” interrupt their working day, preventing them from completing their tasks. A significant portion of respondents, 25%, said they have five or more online meetings daily, while a third reported up to four. With each meeting averaging around 30 minutes, employees could be losing as much as two and a half hours of their working day to video calls.

The survey highlighted concerns about the productivity of virtual meetings. While 56% of professionals said the productivity of these meetings depended entirely on the nature of the call, 13% believed virtual meetings were generally unproductive. Only 5% would choose a video call “to get things done.”

Despite the return to offices, virtual meetings remain prevalent. One third of meetings are still held virtually, even when up to half of the attendees are in the same office.

Daniel Harris, director of Robert Walters London and South East, commented: “Throughout the pandemic, virtual meetings were indispensable for maintaining communication and connection with our colleagues and teams. However, the tide is now shifting. As more professionals return to the office, we’re still seeing Teams or Zoom meetings being scheduled for things that could be more efficiently and effectively handled through a brief message or email.”

In-person meetings are still preferred by 67% of professionals for making important business decisions, compared to 31% who would opt for a video call.

The survey also revealed generational differences in communication preferences. One third of professionals aged over 27 prefer email for workplace communication, while 62% of Gen Z workers favour messaging apps like Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp.

“Behind every successful workplace is clear and consistent communication at all levels,” Harris noted. “Maintaining this requires a tailored approach, assessing the most effective ways of communicating without placing an over-reliance on any single one to ensure professionals always get the most out of their workday and sidestep burnout.”

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