Why limiting video calls is part of our mental health policy

Businesses need to challenge meeting culture head on in order to protect their employees' efficiency and wellbeing

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As hybrid and flexible-working businesses become ever more reliant on video calls, the effects of unnecessary meetings can go beyond financial inefficiency. A day of back-to-back Zoom calls can take an additional toll on the mental health and productivity of employees.

This impact is particularly noticeable in small and medium-sized businesses, where limited physical meeting spaces and remote work arrangements make video meetings a necessity.

Additionally, employees in these businesses often juggle multiple responsibilities or roles, further increasing the need to attend multiple meetings.

For employees, a cycle of frequent and lengthy video calls can lead to heightened cognitive load, eye strain or blurred vision, headaches, increased stress levels, anxiety, fatigue, and a decline in productivity and creativity.

Challenging the sanctity of meeting culture

In a world dominated by meetings, the recent introduction of Shopify’s cost calculator has brought to the forefront the hidden financial burden of unproductive meetings on businesses.

Shopify’s evisceration of meeting culture challenges the notion that meetings are inherently productive and valuable chances to collaborate. Now, the conversation is shifting from the benefits that meetings provide, to the inefficiencies they can cause.

A 2023 study supports that excessive video calls causes stress and fatigue, whilst a study from 2022 found high levels of video meetings caused increased anxiety, emotional exhaustion and depressive symptoms.

Since the pandemic, there have been a wealth of studies that provide evidence of the physical and mental strain that video communication puts on individuals.

How businesses can safeguard employees

The implications are clear: businesses must address the challenges posed by excessive video meetings to safeguard the well-being of their teams and to help unlock potential.

With social values and employee welfare at the heart of BE YELLOW, our remote PR & Marketing agency launching this July, we feel it’s an important issue to address.

We’re keen to implement a strong Wellbeing Policy from the start, and – along with flexible working and four-day work weeks – we will have a remote-working and mental health policy that include our commitment to reducing unnecessary video meetings.

All of this is to help improve mental and physical wellbeing, productivity, and work satisfaction.

A crucial part of the solution lies in fostering client understanding. It’s important that clients recognise that, though individual meetings may seem inconsequential to them, service providers often manage multiple clients, each with their own demands for frequent meetings.

The collective impact of these video calls can be significant, occupying a considerable amount of time and diverting attention away from providing the actual service. When clients acknowledge the time investment required for meetings, and encourage alternative solutions, agencies and their staff can contribute more productively to their client needs.

Working from our own wellbeing policy, we have created the following suggestions for businesses to help them manage and take control of excessive and unnecessary video meetings:

Communicate and Establish Boundaries

  • Recognise the importance of listening to employees’ concerns and using them to develop appropriate procedures and boundaries.
  • Engage in open communication with clients and associates to help them understand the impact of unnecessary meetings on productivity and wellbeing.

Establish Clear Meeting Guidelines

  • Define specific criteria for determining the necessity of a video meeting to reduce the frequency of unproductive gatherings.
  • Encourage the use of alternative communication channels, such as email, instant messaging, or voice notes, to streamline and refine communication.

Practice Mindful Scheduling and Duration

  • Highlight the significance of setting realistic and enforced time-frames for video meetings to prevent fatigue and enhance efficiency.
  • Encourage a mindful approach to scheduling, allowing employees sufficient time for breaks and recovery between meetings or even consider implementing designated “no call days”.

Leverage Technology for Effective Communication

  • Explore the utilisation of collaboration tools and project management platforms to streamline work-flow, minimising the need for video meetings.
  • Empower employees to choose the most suitable communication method for different types of discussions, considering factors such as complexity, urgency, efficiency and personal preferences.

Provide Training and Support

  • Provide comprehensive training and resources to equip employees with the skills and knowledge to navigate the demands of video meetings effectively.
  • Offer mental health support and resources to address the challenges associated with video call fatigue.

It’s our hope at BE YELLOW that other companies develop policies that help minimise the negative effects of unnecessary meetings.

As with most technologies it’s important that organisations seek a balance and listen carefully to the needs and concerns of their employees. With careful consideration for the tools available, we can all create a productive, fulfilling and healthy work environment.

headshot of Marcus Knight cofounder of BeYellow
Marcus Knight, co-founder, BE YELLOW

BE YELLOW is a socially-driven PR & Marketing agency, with its official launch on 26th July 2023

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