73% of professionals think virtual meetings hamper their individual productivity – with over half (53%) stating their workday is ‘regularly’ interrupted.

A new poll from specialist recruitment company Robert Walters has found that virtual meetings are regularly interrupting professionals’ ‘actual working time’ and distracting them from the work-at-hand.

Only last week online retailer ASOS warned its staff that virtual (in lieu of face-to-face) meetings were having a ‘detrimental’ impact on the company’s performance.

Daniel Harris, Director of Robert Walters London & South East comments: 

Throughout the pandemic, virtual meetings were indispensable for maintaining communication and connection with our colleagues and teams. However, the tide is now shifting – as more professionals return to the office, we’re still seeing Teams or Zoom meetings being scheduled for things that could be more efficiently and effectively handled through a brief message or email.

Daniel Harris, Director of Robert Walters London & South East

Losing hours in the working-day

A quarter of professionals in the UK have over five virtual meetings a day in their diaries, while a third have up to 4 – with the average video call taking up to 30 minutes this could mean that between 2-2.5 hours are being taken away from professionals’ average workday.

Late last year Slack found that anything over two hours’ worth of meetings per work-day actually reduces professional’s productivity levels.

Productivity not guaranteed

On the flip side – when professionals were asked about how productive they found virtual meetings, over half (56%) stated it was entirely dependent on the meeting – with some being quite productive, whilst others felt like a waste of time.

A further 13% thought virtual meetings were not very productive at all.

The poll also revealed that a third of meetings are held virtually despite up to half of the attendees being in the same office.

A recent study from YouGov found that up to 12% (increasing to 21% of 18-29 year olds) of professionals in the UK have admitted to even going for a toilet break during a work video call.

Generational differences

Resoundingly – 62% of Gen-Z cite messaging apps such as MS Teams or WhatsApp as their preferred form of communication – whilst a third of professionals over 27 years prefer email.

Only 5% of professionals of all ages prefer virtual meetings when they are looking to get their heads down, and get things done.

Simple questions, even catch-ups or handovers can sometimes be more easily addressed in a quick message or email chain – resulting in less disruption to professionals’ actual working time.

Coming together

The poll also asked professionals what would be their team’s preferred form of communication to make important business decisions – over three-fifths (67%) voted for an in-person meeting, with half the amount (31%) of professionals opting for a video-call.

Daniel concludes:

Behind every successful workplace, is clear and consistent communication at all levels. Maintaining this requires a tailored approach – assessing the most effective ways of communicating without placing on over-reliance on any single one to ensure professionals’ always get the most out of their workday and sidestep burnout.

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.