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Remote meetings take more time

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Recent posts haven't been the usual posts to help people googling for how to do or fix certain things. I don't know if this is to vent, practice writing, or practice thinking (writing to think!) but hey let's just run with it.

Today's musing: remote meetings are longer.


My online meetings feel like they take up more time than in-person meetings, no matter whether video is on or off. My gut feels says it's maybe 30% more time, when not timeboxed to the same duration.

There are lots of words written recently about why video calls seem to consume more energy, but why do online meetings naturally take more time than offline meetings?

Why does that happen?

I can think of at least a few contributing factors off the top of my head:

I'm sure there are more factors, but even from just these it seems obvious that meetings will naturally take longer, all other things held constant.

If you think meetings are taking the same time, could there be a trade-off being silently made somewhere -- are fewer people getting the chance to put their 2 cents in?

What can we do about it?

I feel like these are mostly marginal improvements though, other than encouraging interruptions.

How is this going to play out?

The basic software problems can be ironed out, especially if you are allowed to change the software involved, and the communication norms will slowly develop as people try to reduce the frustrations.

But I think it will take more time to sort out hardware issues like poor or no wifi at home, or improving the mic situation. There have been supply shortages for some of these WFH-related equipment, but the larger issue is probably that almost nobody (employer or employee) really wants to invest hundreds of dollars on a situation that very optimistically can blow over in a month or two.

It'll be interesting to see whether this situation will drive lasting changes in how we work. It does feel way too early to claim that office space is going to be cut down dramatically because teams will permanently move to 100% WFH or anything like that. After all, many homes here aren't exactly sized with spare capacity to suddenly add multiple home-office workspaces.