On mute and off-camera: Employees are checking out of their virtual meetings

Employees are exhausted from virtual meetings — can new tech change that?

It looks like employees might not love sitting through a bunch of pointless meetings every day, according to new data.

A white man in a suit talking to a grid of faces on a floating virtual meeting screen.

Shocking, we know.

Analytics platform Vyopta evaluated 40m+ virtual meetings across 11 companies and 450k+ employees during two six-week windows from Q1 2022 and Q1 2023.

The results?

They were pretty telling of where our collective morale is at, per Harvard Business Review. We’re guessing most of these will resonate:

  • Despite return-to-office mandates, employees attended a lot of virtual meetings in 2023, averaging 10.1 per week.
  • The rate of participants staying muted for the entirety of smaller virtual meetings was up from 4.8% in 2022 to 7.2% in 2023.
  • People spent more time off-camera, with camera enablement rates falling slightly between 2022 and 2023.

Also, unsurprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between camera enablement and participation rates and retention: Employees who stayed at their company had a 32.5% camera enablement rate and a 9.6% participation rate, versus just 18.4% and 7.1%, respectively, among those who left within a year.

(Makes sense — updating your resume takes a lot of concentration.)

Meeting in the future

The surge in virtual meetings even as more employees return to their offices is proof that your Zoom calls aren’t going anywhere.

But new technology might make them a whole lot more enjoyable. Or, at least, weirder.

  • Zoom Workplace wants AI-powered digital twins to attend our meetings for us.
  • Google’s Project Starline is a video booth that uses high-tech cameras, sensors, and displays to make meeting participants feel like they’re in the same room.
  • Meta’s Meta Quest Pro headset paired with its Horizon Workrooms virtual office app brings meetings into the metaverse.

And many other tech companies are also working on solutions for virtual meetings.

Our favorite possibility? Having a meeting via holograms in the back seat of your driverless car.

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