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Study Finds That Virtual Meetings Can Boost Well-Being and Performance

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Virtual meetings – often derided as impersonal and prone to technical glitches – can improve employee well–being and performance, a new study led by a Trinity Business School researcher has found.

The research, conducted alongside Karin S. Moser (UniDistance Suisse, University of Queensland), Stefan Diestel (University of Wuppertal) and Isaac Alshaikh (South East Technological University Waterford), conducted during the ongoing shift to hybrid work environments and just published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour, concludes that virtual meetings, a staple of the COVID-19 pandemic, are not just a necessity but can also be beneficial.

Wladislaw Rivkin, associate professor at Trinity Business School, led the research, which entailed two comprehensive daily studies during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. 179 employees were surveyed across 1,071 workdays.

Rivkin and his colleagues found that on days when employees spend more time in virtual meetings, they experience more “flow”, defined as a peak state of intrinsic motivation, and this intense focus leads to reduced mental fatigue throughout the day.

In the work domain, they found that more time spent in virtual meetings reduces counterproductive work behaviours, such as procrastination.

In the home domain, more time spent in virtual meetings reduces work-family conflict and the need for recovery from stress.

Rivkin said: “These findings challenge the prevailing narrative surrounding the costs of virtual meetings, offering a fresh lens through which organisations can evaluate and optimise their virtual communication strategies. In the era of hybrid work, recognising and harnessing the potential of virtual meetings to improve employee functioning and well-being is crucial.”

The study presents a novel perspective on the impact of virtual meetings on employees.

It also delves into how spending more daily time in work-related digital interactions can reduce counterproductive work behaviours, such as procrastination, and even enhance one’s non-work life by reducing work-family conflict and the need to recover from stress after work.

The study provides insights for businesses, HR professionals, and leaders navigating the complexities of the “new normal” in work arrangements. By acknowledging and promoting the conditions that improve “flow” experiences in virtual settings, organisations can improve employee performance, well-being, and overall work-life balance.

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