Forget COVID, this is the real pandemic draining our energy

Before the pandemic, there is no doubt that internal meeting fatigue was already a thing.

But as more people switched to meeting online, meetings that were already fatiguing unfortunately became even more so.

This wastes valuable cognitive energy that could better utilised.

And given that people had so many other things to worry about, like “What time do I need to get to the supermarket to get toilet paper?”, the structure of meetings wasn’t really on the radar of things to change. For some people it still isn’t but most people at least now realise that meetings can be fatiguing and that something needs to be done. Phew!

Meetings – the not so good, the bad and the just plain ugly

The amount of time we see people spending in meetings which could have been an email, or a quick video, is not just unproductive – it’s frightening.

Meetings – regardless of whether they are virtual or not – generally go for too long and start late. They have too many people in them. They lack clear agendas and outcomes to be achieved, and rarely require everyone to participate.

And that “around the grounds thing”… Don’t get me started.

And the more senior people you have in the meeting the more expensive the meeting is – a senior leadership team of 8 people getting together could cost the company around $2,000-$10,000 per hour just in salary costs, let alone opportunity costs of them doing something more productive or revenue producing.

And the pandemic continues down the ranks…

Why are online meetings so fatiguing?

We’ve covered this in more detail here but there are whole list of reasons, based on neuroscience, as to why we can use more cognitive energy in online meetings.

  1. We have more ambiguity – the brain hates this and has to work harder to make sense of the ambiguity
  2. We try to do too many things at one while we are sitting passively on a meeting
  3. No culture has been set around how to show up on a virtual meeting.
  4. We probably don’t move as much between meetings – dog owners do better on this one.
  5. Meetings go back to back, so we are still mentally in our last meeting while pretending to be in the current meeting
  6. People have to do their actual work outside of work hours
  7. And the list goes on…

What to do about meeting fatigue?

Well it may sound simplistic, but I challenge you to set your company or team a target to cut your internal meetings down to half the time currently spent in meetings. Yes it can be done.

If that sounds unrealistic, firstly you can start small – start by cutting out one hour a day.

If it sounds completely far-fetched to get your meeting time down by half, chances are there are many systemic issues happening in your culture that are stopping this becoming a reality. It could also mean you just don’t know where to start.

Either way – it’s totally fine, at NEP we specialise in helping you to build your high performance culture. Getting everyone out of unproductive internal meetings is a big part of that.

If you would like to discuss frameworks for improving the collective cognitive energy by reducing the time your company or team spends in meetings, please contact us to book your 45 min complimentary Performance Call.