Survey: Most People Are Distracted During Virtual Meetings

By Kathy Morris - Aug. 7, 2020
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Meetings look a little different these days.

Social distancing has more workers dialing in from home, trying to focus with all the distractions and temptations of home. Other workers are struggling with technical issues. Some are stuck putting up with their coworkers’ tech issues and sick of saying, “Can you mute yourself?” for the one thousandth time.

With so many meetings virtual, we surveyed 2,000 American workers to find out how workers are coping.

Keep reading to see what workers’ are actually doing during those Zoom meetings, and what they are absolutely sick of (hint: it’s all the meetings).

Quick Facts


Interesting Findings

  • People are most annoyed by unnecessary meetings.
  • After meetings that could have been emails, workers are most frustrated by loud background noises, late starts, and technical difficulties
  • Most states (a whopping 20!) are most likely to be checking their emails during meetings
  • 12 states say they are multitasking and doing other work during meetings- which may be the “I’m too hard of a worker” answer to this questions
  • 50% of workers have 1-3 hours of meetings a week– which, is too bad for the 20% of workers who find meetings a waste of time
  • When Rhode Islanders aren’t paying attention during meetings, they’re surfing the web for something a little more interesting
  • Crunch, crunch, that sound might be the 6 states that are snacking during meetings

What People Do During Virtual Meetings

Overall, most people are just trying to do their jobs more efficiently- answering emails and multi-tasking to get things done. However, it is no surprise that workers are tempted to send a quick text or take advantage of their proximity to the kitchen to grab a snack.

Over 15% of people are bold enough to do household chores during that Zoom meeting. Hope the sound is off, or colleagues might hear the beautiful music of the dishwasher being loaded. Another 9% are interrupted from their meeting by childcare. I guess their crying kid doesn’t care about quarterly profits.

Curious about the others? So, were we, luckily our survey respondents were happy to enlighten us.

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Other common things people are doing during meetings:

  • Being frustrated/annoyed/unhappy with coworkers
  • Pet care
  • Personal grooming
  • Walk around/Pace
  • Laying in bed
  • Watching tv
  • Sleeping
  • Using the bathroom

We left off some great uncommon (but hilarious) answers such as applying for a new job, attending a virtual birthday party, and going on a jog.

What Is Annoying Everyone So Much?

Frustration and annoyance was a common response- and common meeting distraction. When asked what was the most annoying part of virtual meetings, workers common replies were “unnecessary meetings”, “late starts”, “loud background noises”, and “technical difficulties.”

Many workers (20%) say their work meetings are rarely productive (evidenced by the amount of workers who use meeting minutes to answer emails or do other work). So it is not a surprise so many workers dislike meetings themselves- or anything that prolongs the meeting or wastes more time.

Methodology

Zippia.com, a career resource website, conducted a study of 2,000 work from home workers across the U.S. on virtual meetings.

Each respondent was asked a series of questions about their feelings towards meetings and their behavior during them. North Dakota was excluded due to sample size.

Be careful, that camera or microphone may get you!

Virtual meetings can be tempting to zone out. While most people are just replying to emails or doing other work activities, some people are getting pretty comfy while working from home. From going to the bathroom, to getting dressed, and to outright napping– people are living their lives, hoping no one asks them a question during the meeting.

However, they should be careful! They are only one camera or mic snaffu from one very memorable and highly embarrassing meeting. Maybe they should just stick to texting? Or better yet, seeing if this meeting might actually be important.

For the bosses and meeting schedulers of the world out there, you can minimize distracted attendants by having a clear purpose and agenda for each meeting. Have the meeting start on time and end promptly. Better yet, make the most of the meeting time by having everyone come to the meeting with their tech in order.

Just think how many minutes of “Can you mute yourself?” you’ll save.

What People Are Doing (Other Than Listening!) During Meetings

State What They Do During Meetings
Alabama Checking emails
Alaska Checking emails
Arizona Texting
Arkansas Texting
California Checking emails
Colorado Multitasking
Connecticut Texting
Delaware Multitasking
Florida Checking emails
Georgia Checking emails
Hawaii Texting
Idaho Snack
Illinois Checking emails
Indiana Multitasking
Iowa Checking emails
Kansas Texting
Kentucky Multitasking
Louisiana Multitasking
Maine Surf the internet
Maryland Texting
Massachusetts Texting
Michigan Snack
Minnesota Checking emails
Mississippi Checking emails
Missouri Texting
Montana Snack
Nebraska Multitasking
Nevada Multitasking
New Hampshire Multitasking
New Jersey Checking emails
New Mexico Checking emails
New York Checking emails
North Carolina Checking emails
Ohio Checking emails
Oklahoma Multitasking
Oregon Checking emails
Pennsylvania Checking emails
Rhode Island Snack
South Carolina Checking emails
South Dakota Texting
Tennessee Checking emails
Texas Checking emails
Utah Multitasking
Vermont Snack
Virginia Checking emails
Washington Multitasking
West Virginia Snack
Wisconsin Multitasking
Wyoming Texting

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Kathy Morris

Author

Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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