Online meetings: here's what really grinds our gears
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Online meetings: here's what really grinds our gears

Martin Jungfer
Zurich, on 26.03.2021
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
Home office work has received a boost from the Covid pandemic. And it's likely to continue. People who work from home spend a lot of time in video conferences. The results of a survey show what we dislike most about these virtual meetings.

Technical issues top the list of things that make online meetings tedious and annoying. This is shown in a survey conducted by news aktuell and Faktenkontor analysing 121 specialists and executives from companies, organisations and PR agencies. Here is the media release (in German).

Whether this group of respondents is truly representative of the many workers who have been forced to get used to Zoom and Teams calls in recent months is, of course, open to question. Which is why your opinion is also requested in the small survey further down in the article.

The participants in the news aktuell survey, at any rate, believed infrastructure to be the biggest annoyance. For example, the three most frequently cited problems were «general technology mishaps» (56 per cent), «poor Internet connection» (51 per cent) and «meetings delayed because of technological problems» (37 per cent). Perhaps this simply shows that many still have to learn how to use modern technology. After all, we made do without all this faff before.

«Can anyone hear me?»

Non-technical topics then follow among the ranking. For example, 27 per cent of respondents find it annoying when participants in an online meeting have their camera turned off. The grating «incorrect use of the mute function» (26 per cent) and phrases such as «Did you hear me?» or «Sorry, I got kicked out» fall into the same category. 19 per cent of participants are annoyed by this.

It's also interesting to note that around a quarter of respondents complained about an increase in the number of meetings. This is also confirmed by a data analysis from Microsoft.

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What we can (mostly) deal with

Obviously, other things are forgivable in online meetings. If your partner, cat, dog or children jump through the background, it usually only bothers 7 per cent of respondents. This is what Professor Robert Kelly may have foreshadowed back in 2017 when, during a video interview with the BBC in which he was explaining South Korea's foreign policy, his two children suddenly burst into the study. The video went viral on YouTube.

Even fewer (5 per cent) feel disturbed in online meetings when a participant jumps up because of a package at the door (useful here at Galaxus) or when a participant accidentally allows a glimpse of unwanted or even embarrassing content when using the screen-sharing function. The 2 per cent of participants who find this annoying must perhaps have seen something really irritating.

And now it's your turn! What stresses you out in online meetings?

It's always the same: «Can you see my screen?», «Reto, you're on mute.» or «We're still waiting for Claudia.» It's annoying.

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I'm annoyed by poor image and sound quality in an online meeting.

Entry conditions

Children and/or pets shouldn't jump around in the background.

Entry conditions

Interrupting an online meeting because someone's at the door – no, just no.

Entry conditions

I don't want to see virtual backgrounds – whether it's a loft, a tropical island or an H.R. Giger wallpaper.

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Missing things that drive you up the wall in online meetings? Then drop us a comment. What was your funniest experience in a video call? Let the community know.

Cover image: Nicole Waleczek/Wikimedia Commons

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Martin Jungfer
Martin Jungfer
Head of Content, Zurich
Journalist since 1997. Stopovers in Franconia (or the Franken region), Lake Constance, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Zurich. Father since 2014. Expert in editorial organisation and motivation. Focus on sustainability, home office tools, beautiful things for the home, creative toys and sports equipment.

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