In an interesting finding, Microsoft Researchers have proved that our brain and body need a break after back-to-back online meetings. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have shifted their work culture from physical to work-from-home or hybrid mode. This is due to the lockdown and health risks associated with offline work. However, the convenience of remote work also comes at a cost.
Due to the continuous online meetings, employees have to compromise on their mental health. It also impacts their focus and productivity. But Microsoft has proved that if employees take “short breaks” between the meetings, this can increase their focus and help reduce fatigue.
“The back-to-back meetings that have become the norm over the last 12 months just aren’t sustainable…” says Jared Spataro, CVP, Microsoft 365.
About the Research
The research is conducted by Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab. It focuses on finding a solution for meeting fatigue. A team of researchers from the Human Factors Lab recently performed a study on 14 people and asked them to do virtual meetings while wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG).
EEG is medical equipment, which is used to monitor and examine the electrical signals and activity in the brain. The equipment monitored the participants’ heads electrical activities during and after the virtual meetings.
The research was conducted for two days. On the first day, the participants took four 30-minutes-long back-to-back meetings without any breaks. The topics for the meetings were on creating a marketing plan, office designing, and more.
And on the second day, the team followed the same routine. However, the only difference was that, instead of conducting back-to-back meetings, the participants got 10-minutes breaks after each meeting. During this time, they meditated with the Headspace app. Microsoft researchers took note of the results for both days.
Three main takeaways from Microsoft Researchers:
1) Breaks between meetings give enough time for the brain to “reset” and reduce the stress level
2) Prolonged virtual meetings can decrease an individual’s ability to focus and engage.
3) Transitioning between virtual sessions can be a source of high stress
So, it is clear that back-to-back meetings will lead to a stressful situation for employees. The solution for that will be to take regular “short breaks” between the meetings to improve productivity and focus.
Citing this research, the tech giant has added new features to the Outlook app. Through the added new features, individuals and organizations can reduce 5, 10, or 15 minutes from the Microsoft Teams meetings.
Research-Backed Tips to Improve Focus and Productivity
The researchers also shared some effective tips to improve the focus and productivity of employees while taking a break or even during meetings. Let us look at them below:
- Try to shift your mindset by taking off your eyes from your computer screen
- Cultivate a habit of doing activities that actually calm your mind. It can include writing, listening to songs, talking to your family, or simply taking a walk outside.
- Create even more time for breaks by considering other modes of communication
- Make meetings intentional, punctual, and to-the-point
- Keep participants more engaged and energized
So, these are some of the simple yet effective tips to reduce stress and improve your well-being. Now, if you wish, you can share this story with your employer and let them know about the importance of short breaks between online meetings. Microsoft Researchers can prove to be your blessing in disguise.