As remote work increased due to the pandemic, agenda’s quickly began to fill up with virtual meetings. Sure, some are very important. But there are also others that leave you wondering… “couldn’t that have just been an email?”

An illusion lies behind the increase in meetings. The idea that projects will move more quickly and be better coordinated while meeting in a virtual environment is not always the case.

A study conducted by Microsoft has shown that consecutive virtual meetings increase employee stress levels, negatively impacting their performance and workplace satisfaction. To measure these effects, Microsoft analyzed participants’ brain activity during virtual meetings by using electroencephalograms. The results were enlightening: While people who had back-to-back meetings showed increased stress-related brain activity, those who had the same number of meetings but with breaks between them didn’t.

 The Microsoft study leads to a simple conclusion: employees can greatly improve their wellbeing, productivity, and workplace satisfaction by simply incorporating breaks before and after each virtual meeting. As such, it is within the best interest of companies and managers to make this a part of their workplace culture. 

Finding The Sweet Spot: Incorporating Breaks in Meetings

So, what can you do to find digital wellness in the age of remote work and near constant connectivity?

  1. Whenever possible, avoid totally consecutive scheduling meetings. Schedule meetings to end 5 or 10 minutes before the top of the hour to build in those times for breaks. Doing so will help decrease stress and increase concentration and participation during subsequent meetings. 
  2. Don’t underestimate the power of breaks within meetings. Hour + long meetings can also lead to fatigue, especially when meeting managers move quickly from topic to topic without any time for a break. Managers should take these moments as an opportunity to invite employees to turn off their cameras and incorporate physical activity within the workday. Whether 2 minutes of jumping jacks, toe-touches, or quiet meditation, employees will return to the meeting feeling more energized and engaged.

Take breaks
Taking breaks between meetings seems to be the answer to these problems. No matter how short the pauses are, they allow your brain to reset. By doing so, you will be able to reduce cumulative stress. In addition, incorporating meditation into these breaks will improve results.

In order to achieve real progress at work, you need to advance in your projects while looking after your wellbeing. A never-ending string of back-to-back meetings will cost you in the long run. It is therefore crucial to schedule space in your day for doing nothing. You will surely feel unproductive at first, but in reality, that is the moment that will give you the strength to continue. It will enhance your concentration and enthusiasm, so you can do your work better.

Set a specific time for thinking

There should be at least one moment per day on your calendar where you can focus and analyze what you’re doing. Slowing down and looking at the big picture is both underestimated and incredibly important. If you never take a moment to analyze what you’re doing, how can you know if your actions are aligned with your goals? By anticipating what will happen throughout the day, you will have greater control over your work. At the start of each workday, it can also be helpful to review your pending commitments and tasks in order to prioritize healthy habits. 

Take more breaks without your phone

It surely happens that you turn to your phone to distract you in moments of rest. Anyway, resting doesn’t come from checking your social networks, emails or messages. As a result, you will feel less productive and rested after your break.

Defining moments in which you rest without your phone, will allow you to engage in other activities that will truly help you disconnect. Relax with a hot beverage or walk a little. You can talk to someone at home or at the office. It may even be as simple as meditating for a few minutes or having a coffee while watching through the window to recharge your batteries.

By adding these small changes to your work routine, the end of the day will not leave you exhausted. Furthermore, this changes will improve your concentration throughout the day. As a result, you will be able to attend and participate in meetings more effectively, and devote more time and energy to the tasks you are responsible for. The results will not only improve the quality of your work, but also benefit your health.

You can explore these topics further and find more recommendations to improve your digital wellbeing. DWI courses can help you thrive in this area. You can find them on our page and on social networks. A healthy, happy, and fulfilling professional life is often determined by little things, don’t overlook them!

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Strategies to reduce stress level at work:

  • Avoid schedule consecutive meetings
  • Take breaks between meetings
  • Give yourself time to do nothing during the day
  • Set a specific time for thinking and planning 
  • Take more breaks without your phone

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Back-to-back video conferences increase stress levels

 A study conducted by Microsoft has shown that several consecutive virtual meetings increase people’s stress levels. They monitored the brain activity of participants in virtual meetings. As the person went through new meetings, they discovered that stress-related brain activity increased. However, there was no similar outcome in another group, which had the same number of meetings but with breaks between them.

By holding more meetings, we believe the teams will be more coordinated and the projects will progress more quickly. In some cases, however, the result can be quite the opposite, as the study illustrates. Therefore, you should take breaks between meetings. No matter how short the pauses are, they allow your brain to reset. By doing so, you will be able to reduce cumulative stress. In addition, incorporating meditation into these breaks will improve results.

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