Relief On Hand From Endless Video Meetings

John Lister's picture

Microsoft is to make it easier to build breaks into videoconferencing schedules. The move is designed to overcome a mismatch between technology "efficiency" and the real world.

Automated scheduling tools make sense as a way for businesses to efficiently find and arrange times for people to get together. By default, most tools will schedule a meeting for a "round" time period such as 30 or 60 minutes.

In an era when the vast majority of meetings were in person, that wasn't necessarily a problem. Back-to-back meetings were rare and even when they happened, meetings would naturally end a few minutes "early" to account for the fact people might have to physically relocate to their desk or a different meeting room.

That's not worked so well for businesses that now do most or all of their work online. Because people are now more comfortable with online meetings, it's more common to have two or three scheduled in a row. Meanwhile meeting leaders may be less likely to wrap things up early when they know that "getting" to the next meeting simply involves clicking a link and not even leaving a chair.

Auto-Breaks Offer Relief

That's led to some employees complaining of burnout when they are sat in back-to-back meetings without either a physical or mental break.

Microsoft is now tweaking Outlook so that both individual users and, perhaps more importantly, businesses as a whole can change the default scheduling settings. They'll be able to automatically build in breaks at the beginning and end of any scheduled meeting.

Users can choose between having a default break duration or having it vary depending on how long the associated meeting runs. (Source:

Wellbeing Boosted

Meanwhile Microsoft's Teams video meeting software is getting some "wellbeing" features added including optional meditation and mindfulness routines that are available to run before a meeting.

There's also a "virtual commute" feature that encourages the users to mentally review their work from the day, prepare their tasks for the following day, then go through relaxation exercises. The idea is to simulate the natural transition between work and personal life than some workers report is harder to achieve now they don't have a physical commute. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Are these features worthwhile? Have you experienced online meeting fatigue? Is this just a gimmick or could it help boost staff wellbeing?

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