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Millennials Feel Happier and Healthier Taking Most Meetings Off Zoom

The 36-year-old health tech investor said on X, formerly Twitter, as of earlier this month, 90 percent of its meetings are phone calls, while 10 percent are on Zoom.

“I am healthier, happier, and the benefits of meeting on a walk far outweigh my enjoyment of seeing someone’s face on a screen,” wrote Farr, who also writes a newsletter. Substack information on health technology titled “Second Opinion” for 20,000 people. the subscribers.

Other office workers have ditched video calls, a move also supported by recent research on Zoom fatigue.

Switch from video meetings to phone calls

Speaking to Business Insider – by phone, of course – Farr said the choice to move primarily to phone meetings with her network of startup founders, investors and operators happened after she developed sciatica or nerve pain while working remotely for a company. capital fund in 2021.

“Suddenly I was six months pregnant, sitting at home during a pandemic and on these back-to-back Zoom calls,” said Farr, who now works primarily a hybrid schedule. “I was just sitting there all the time.”

She said her condition “deteriorated so much” that she found it difficult to move forward towards the end of her pregnancy. Although sciatica can have a variety of causes, Farr said she strongly suspects that hours spent on Zoom without physical activity is one of the main culprits.

Farr started moving his video meetings to phone calls so he could walk around during them. She recalls that some people she asked to change formats reacted with surprise: “You feel like that annoying person who says, ‘Hey, do you really mind if we don’t make a video? ‘”

Christina Farr spoke to Business Insider the same way she does in 90 percent of her meetings: by phone.

Christina Farr spoke to Business Insider the way she does 90 percent of her meetings: by phone.

Courtesy of Christina Farr

But the more she asked, the more Farr — who said she had up to seven hours of meetings every weekday — realized how many other people also hated Zoom.

“People almost want to talk to me because it’s the only time of day they don’t have to be sitting,” she said. “I got responses like, ‘Oh my God, thank you so much. I really don’t want to do that either.'”

Farr knows that phone calls don’t work for all types of meetings, especially when visuals are crucial, like when presenting a slideshow. However, she says, it’s usually a viable option.

There is a perception that being off camera is rude

Alyssa Jaffee, a friend of Farr’s who is also a health-tech investor, also prefers to use the phone for most of her meetings, which can take up to 10 hours during her workday, depending on the day. .

Jaffee, a partner at Chicago-based venture capital fund 7wireVentures, says the pandemic has reinforced the idea that it’s “rude” to be off-camera because “you’re not present if you’re not not on video.”

“There is a challenge around perception that is difficult to break free from,” said Jaffee, 37.

But she said that was a false narrative.

“When I’m on audio only, I move around a lot, I walk around my neighborhood a lot, I walk on the treadmill in my basement and I just focus on the conversation I’m having,” he said. -she declared. said, adding that being on the phone mitigates the risk of being distracted by incoming notifications, emails or other browser tabs. “There is no universe in which simply sitting in front of a screen and looking at your own face is better for you.”

Jaffee too said that some meetings that people think should be held on video because they involve presentations might actually be held on audio only.

“We did this long before Zoom existed for pitch calls,” she said. “People were good storytellers.”

Zoom haters have research to back up their position

Farr and Jaffee’s criticisms of video conferencing are supported by a recent academic journal article by Stanford professor Jeremy Bailenson explaining why people generally find video meetings exhausting.

Bailenson’s report, which expands on his 2020 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, says the main cause of “Zoom fatigue” is “nonverbal overload” as people work harder to communicate with language bodily.

In his new report, Bailenson said overload can be caused by certain aspects of video calls, including unnatural and “intense” prolonged eye contact, constantly being able to see each other, reduced mobility and unconsciously having to work harder to perform “non-verbal communication”.

Bailenson concluded the report with a simple suggestion: “Make “audio only” Zoom meetings the default, or better yet, insist on taking some calls by phone. »

For Zoom haters like Farr, reports like Bailenson’s are compelling.

“I don’t want to see my face. I don’t particularly need to see anyone else’s face,” Farr said. “I certainly don’t want to see your face at the expense of my own health and well-being.”


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