Posted on 14th April 2021

video call laptop

Otter.ai, an AI-powered live transcription and collaboration app, released the results of a YouGov survey it commissioned of more than 2,000 employees in the U.S. and U.K. who have been working at least partially from home since the onset of the pandemic ('remote workers'). The results provide insight into what's really happening in all these Zoom meetings, the effect of these meetings on work-life balance, attitudes about returning to the office and how the corporate world can improve productivity and morale by changing how they hold meetings.

Remote working is here to stay

Working from home was thrust upon many of us a year ago due to the onset of the pandemic. What seemed like an inconceivable shift in working practices happened almost overnight and saw our homes transformed into virtual offices. For many that was a challenge, but what are the perceptions now after a year of working from home? Who's working from home now and who's already back in the office, at least some of the time? And how often do they think they'll be returning to the office?

Of the 2,027 remote workers surveyed:
39% are working from home full time and believe they will be indefinitely
36% are fully remote also, but think they'll be returning to the office, at least partially, in the future
24% are working in the office with colleagues some of the time
14% of remote workers say they want to return to the office full time when it's safe to do so
20% say they never want to return to the office
45% want to work between one and three days per week in the office once it's safe to do so

Business meetings need to fundamentally change

We've all attended more virtual meetings in 2020 than during any calendar year due to the sudden shift to remote and hybrid working. While face-to-face communications have been replaced by Zoom calls, the format of business meetings has so far remained completely unchanged. Despite many months of remote working, we still don't know how to have effective meetings in a virtual environment. And the social etiquette for meetings has now officially gone out the window with 11% of remote workers saying they've not worn trousers during a virtual meeting at least once in the past 12 months.

Here are seven suggestions on how to fix meetings:
52% - All meetings should have agendas
35% - People should only attend relevant sections of meetings
33% - Meetings should be shorter
26% - Meeting notes should always be shared with attendees
22% - No use of cell / mobile phones during calls
20% - No one should be doing emails during the meetings
13% - Meetings should have five people or fewer

The top eight reasons remote workers want to keep working from home at least part time (respondents asked to select their top two reasons):
51% - Avoid the commute
34% - Get to work flexible hours
26% - More productive at home
22% - Fear of catching COVID or other communicable viruses
21% - Get to sleep in more
15% - Don't want to wear formal clothes
15% - Miss spending time with family
11% - Better diet at home

Here's what people miss about working in the office
43% - Watercooler chats: office chatter
36% - Better workstation or office setup
25% - Eating lunch out
20% - Happy hours with my colleagues
12% - Getting away from my spouse or partner
10% - Not having to care for children
6% - Flirting with colleagues

Zoom fatigue is real and alive in today's workforce

As remote work has become the norm, video meetings have been the standout collaboration tool for businesses. Adoption of Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams has skyrocketed and become fully integrated into the work experience - at a pace never seen before. One of the biggest challenges for businesses has been keeping this new remote workforce productive and collaborative without suffering videoconferencing fatigue.

Is Zoom fatigue a thing, and how has it affected our productivity and work-life balance?
42% of respondents say they've experienced Zoom fatigue since they've had to work from home due to the pandemic
38% of those who have experienced Zoom fatigue say it has gotten better compared to when they first felt it
20% say it's gotten worse
52%, or more than half, say that working from home has improved their work-life balance
18% say it has hurt it

How have all these Zoom meetings affected our lives? Respondents who said they had suffered Zoom fatigue were provided with a list of potential impacts and asked to rank the top two ways Zoom fatigue has affected their work lives:
41% - Poor productivity
32% - Control work hours
27% - Inability to leave home due to work
24% - Lack of collaboration
22% - An inability to sleep properly
22% - Struggling to stay in contact with friends and family
14% - A negative effect on family life

Here's what people have admitted to doing at least once while on virtual meetings in the past 12 months:
31% - Had private conversations with friends in the same meeting
30% - Wore pajamas
23% - Shopped online
15% - Played computer games
12% - Exercised
12% - Doomscrolled (reading bad news online to the point of affecting mental wellness)
11% - Not worn trousers
9% - Drank alcohol or been drunk at an inappropriate time
9% - Looked for a new job
5% - Browsed dating websites
35% say they didn't do any of these things

"Our survey shows that work will never be the same as before the pandemic. Employees now demand a flexible, collaborative and hybrid work set up that meets the new work-life balance and changing attitudes created by working from home for such a long period," said Sam Liang, CEO, and founder of Otter.ai. "Zoom Fatigue is real and meetings need to be adapted to suit our new working environment, whether that is fundamentally changing the structure of meetings or seeing employees engage with productivity and collaboration apps that help with meeting notes and allow the sharing of conversations in real time. Perhaps making a rule that all employees should wear trousers on virtual meetings is another good one to add to the list."

For more information visit otter.ai

A: 107 Laker Road, Rochester Airport Industrial Estate, Rochester, Kent, ME1 3QX

T: 0344 2572070

E: info@netboxrecruitment.com

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