The developer of Polly, an engagement app that captures “instant response right where you work” on Slack, Teams, and Zoom, today released a study that highlights employees’ perceptions around virtual meetings now, a year after most offices went fully remote.

Key findings reveal a majority of respondents believe that while teams have adopted virtual meetings as the new normal, there is still work to be done to address meeting fatigue and a lack of engagement in virtual meetings.

“At the start of the 2020 work-from-home revolution, virtual meetings offered employees the chance to maintain some semblance of human contact – a much needed upgrade from traditional conference calls,” a release from Polly stated.

“Even today, 93% of survey respondents report that virtual meetings are an effective use of their time, and 75% say their meetings are actually getting more productive. However, companies need to continue that momentum and up the ante by introducing new virtual meeting tools and solutions that further engage their connection-hungry workforce.”

Partnering with a group of software companies that included WorkPatterns, Colibri, Fellow, Pledge, Prezi, Rev and Warmly, the company said it conducted the analysis to “discover gaps in virtual meetings that employers and employees continue to grapple with – providing needed insight during a time in which employers are making crucial decisions about the future of their workforce in the post-pandemic world.”

Key findings include:

  • Respondents reported spending five times more time in meetings now (over a quarter of a standard workweek) versus before the pandemic.
  • 22% spend half or more of a standard workweek in virtual meetings.
  • Almost 25% of respondents cite personal connection as their greatest challenge in virtual meetings overall, with over 50% feeling this way about 1:1 meetings, specifically.
  • 37% report “meeting fatigue” as their top challenge, pointing to a possible disconnect among teams and an opportunity to introduce new tools and processes in virtual meetings to re-engage workers.
  • 85% of respondents say they multitask during virtual meetings, with 44% reporting that they very frequently or always multitask during virtual meetings.
  • Of those who multitask during virtual meetings, 74% do other work tasks and 77% check email.
  • Though the majority of virtual meeting attendees multitask, only 30% scroll through social media or read the news.
  • Less than 25% of respondents use virtual meeting platforms exclusively in the workplace today.

“In the last year, we’ve witnessed a major shift in the workplace, and at the forefront of that has been the substantial impact of being physically separated from our colleagues,” said Samir Diwan, CEO and co-founder of Polly. 

According to respondents, “the biggest challenges seen in virtual meetings today are interpersonal, such as the loss of collaboration and personal connection, with almost half reporting this as their number one concern.”

“Virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere, and making them more efficient starts with asking some hard questions: If most of my employees aren’t fully engaged during virtual meetings, what’s the real impact on productivity? And more importantly, how do we address it?” Diwan said.

“With so many people experiencing burnout and missing the benefits of face-to-face meetings, the need for tools that help people feel more engaged and connected has never been greater.”

The full data study report can be accessed here.