As if the heat and humidity isn’t enough, the nature of online events and meetings are sending some of us into the land of nod too …
The dog days of deep summer are upon us. It would be pleasant to lapse into a somnolent, slow-paced way of life, but alas; despite the temperatures reaching 40C, the HR world slows for no man or woman. Everyday another strike is announced; the Conservative Party leadership contest is attempting to boil its way to a climax but remains tepidly stuck on tax; chaos at Dover and at airports casts a shadow over holiday plans; and there are rumblings that electricity and water supplies may fail in some areas.
Meanwhile drought, pestilence and indeed fire stalk the land. I was going to include famine but having just returned from Sainsbury’s I can report that unless you’re a fan of pimento-filled olives and refrigerated cod, you won’t starve – yet.
Nonetheless, it appears that many of us are catching up on sleep despite all this excitement – during online meetings while working from home.
Yes, one in four people have admitted to falling asleep during a video call or virtual event, according to recent research from virtual events software provider EventsX, a company that sounds as if it should get the gig of organising Elon Musk’s summer garden party, or an MI5 leaving do.
A lighthearted take on HR
The soporific stat rose to one in three for 18-34 year olds. Perhaps this is the true reason for those blank screen “sorry, I had my microphone off” moments.
Over-55s, however, were far more attentive. Only 10% told researchers they had slipped into blissful unconsciousness on Zoom or Teams. This may be because having seen the state of their pensions they would rather not be part of the great resignation, or risk being sacked. They could also be lying.
Is it the heat or just the sheer boredom of many work meetings that induces this plague of nodding off? There is another factor involved, EventsX tells us: alcohol. A quarter confessed they had consumed alcohol on a video call when they were not supposed to. This rose to almost a third of 18-34-year-olds but dropped to 10% of those individuals over 55 – most of whom we may now assume are liars.
Half of 18-24 year olds said they had played games on their computer during a work call or virtual event which they had found particularly mind-numbing. This may be why at a Personnel Today conference call recently, one delegate was heard to shout “checkmate!” during an exchange of views on the government’s latest employment status guidance. There was no reply, most of the others on the call had drifted off.
Shoaib Aslam, founder of EventsX, took these shocking statistics in his stride. He said: “It is far easier for online event attendees to leave, or multi-task, than it is for those who attend in person, highlighting why creating an interesting and interactive online event is so important.” He suggested that by using AI matching technology and similarly engaging features “attendees can absorb themselves in a fulfilling event that does not send them to sleep”.
It is a shame that such advance technology isn’t available for us while watching the Conservative leadership debates – there’s a yawning gap in the market there. My theory is that the broadcaster Kate McCann did not faint, she just nodded off while standing up.
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