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Microsoft study says avoid chaining video meetings

by Joseph Richard
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The accumulation of meetings without breaks, a phenomenon that has tended to increase during the Covid-19 pandemic, is terrible for workers. The study from Microsoft shows :

With this in mind, the Redmond firm presents new rules for Outlook, aimed at shortening meetings and taking a break between them.

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More breaks cause less stress.

Almost everyone knows that taking breaks between meetings can be beneficial for well-being and efficiency at work. The interest of the Microsoft study is to show this scientifically, and visually.14 14 participants participated in the study. They participated for the first time in four consecutive half-hour meetings on different subjects. The following week, they participated in half-hour videoconference meetings, interspersed with 10-minute breaks during which they meditated.

Using electroencephalography sensors, the study was able to study the beta activity of the participants, that is, their brain rhythm. This showed that those in meditation between meetings had allowed their brain activity to drop during the break. They were thus able to have a series of meetings without stress, unlike the participants who did not have this “decompression airlock.”

Less stress and therefore more blue color for participants who have taken a break between meetings. © Brown Bird Design

The asymmetry rates of the frontal alpha-band activity of the participants (which correspond to the difference between right and left alpha wave activity in the frontal area of ​​the brain) were also examined. Favorable rates compare to those of participants who meditated. This suggests that during meetings, they are more engaged. Negative rates correspond to those having chained meetings, which is associated with being more withdrawn during them.

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Automatic break times in Outlook

How to fight against the “scourge” of unobserved breaks? Faced with the problems caused, Edmond’s firm announces that it has implemented new settings in Microsoft Outlook. These should facilitate the configuration of automatic break times between successive meetings.

Individuals or businesses can now specify in their default settings whether meetings should be shortened by 5, 10, or 15 minutes. For example, 30-minute sessions can be shortened to 25 minutes and one-hour meetings to 55 minutes so that there is automatically a five-minute break.

Individuals and businesses can set fixed specifications, which automatically shorten scheduled meetings.IT administrators can deploy this functionality with the help of Powershell, the task automation platform.It remains to be seen whether companies will quickly adopt this tool. But that’s another story.

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