Virtual Meetings vs. Real Meetings: Some Surprising Differences

Online, people take fewer turns at speaking. This could be because it’s more awkward to interrupt people online. But it leaves people less satisfied and can lead to poorer collaboration. Researchers at Stanford paired up 72 participants; half met in person, half on Zoom. The pairs collaborated on 3 tasks while being monitored for their work quality. These included a problem-solving task, a creative task, and an emotion-sharing task. The virtual pairs took fewer turns at swapping the speaking role. Real-life pairs reported a greater sense of cooperation and felt better about their performance. They also performed objectively better on the tasks. Finally, a follow-up experiment used a simple method to foster connection. At the end of the meeting, each participant spent 2 minutes expressing appreciation for their partner as well as boosting activity related to social processing. People reported feeling more connected to their partners. Americans spend 30% of their weekly work time in virtual meetings. A LinkedIn poll showed 28% of workers are in online meetings 5-7 hours a day.