Psychology

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks

Imagine your brain as a bustling city. The traffic of thoughts and tasks builds up during meetings. Breaks are like traffic lights, allowing the mind to slow down and the traffic to clear.

August 1, 2023
Mohit Sahni
What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks

Ever felt like your brain was stuck in a never-ending loop of video meetings, a mind-numbing carousel of screens and voices? You’re not alone. Millions around the world have been in that same sinking boat, trapped in back-to-back video conferences that drain the life out of the workday.

But what if there was science behind this feeling? What if it wasn't just a gut reaction but a measurable response happening inside your brain? 

Microsoft decided to dive into this very question, peeling back the layers of our Zoom-fatigued minds.

With electroencephalogram (EEG) caps and a well-thought-out experimental design, they set out to dissect this modern-day conundrum. And what they found was not just fascinating; it was enlightening.

Welcome to the deep dive into the scientific underbelly of meeting fatigue. 

The Back-to-Back Meeting Phenomenon

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Source: Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab

We all felt it: the accumulating stress from one meeting to the next. Microsoft's study, conducted among people participating in video meetings and monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment, put data into our feelings. As consecutive video meetings increased, so did stress.

“Our research shows breaks are important, not just to make us less exhausted by the end of the day, but to actually improve our ability to focus and engage while in those meetings,” says Michael Bohan, senior director of Microsoft’s Human Factors Engineering group, who oversaw the project.

Microsoft isn't just identifying the problem; they're pointing to an easy remedy: taking a break in between meetings. 

The Science Behind the Break

Work used to be different. A 9-to-5 job, a desk, a chair, and maybe a few office plants. But with the rise of remote work and back-to-back video meetings, the workplace has become a battlefield of cognitive overload and stress. 

Thankfully, science is here to help us understand why a break isn't just nice – it's necessary.

1. Breaks Reset the Brain

Beta waves – those little electrical signals our brains send out – they spike with stress. But when you take a break and perhaps indulge in a bit of meditation, those beta waves calm down.

Imagine your brain as a bustling city. The traffic of thoughts and tasks builds up during meetings. Breaks are like traffic lights, allowing the mind to slow down and the traffic to clear.

2. Meditation Isn’t Just for Monks

Meditation isn't about achieving nirvana; it's about giving your brain a moment to breathe. The Microsoft study showed that when participants meditated during breaks, they could enter the next meeting with a more focused and relaxed mindset.

It's like hitting the refresh button on your brain's browser. Everything loads faster and works better.

3. The Tricky Transition Between Meetings

Switching from one meeting to the next without a break is like trying to change lanes in a speeding car. Stress levels spike, and focus plummets.

The science? Beta wave activity. It jumps when you move between meetings without a break. Add in some meditation, and that spike levels out.

In other words, slow down before you switch lanes.

4. The Ripple Effect of Mindful Breaks

This isn't just about one study or one set of meetings. It's about creating a work culture that respects the brain's need to reset.

The science behind taking breaks goes beyond just reducing stress. It's about promoting a state of mental well-being that can last a lifetime. It's about recognizing that our brains need downtime, just like our bodies.

The results? 

The results were fascinating, with three main takeaways:

The Microsoft study was no mere surface-level glance at meeting fatigue; it was a scientifically rigorous investigation. Let's unpack the takeaways and see how they're backed by the cold, hard data.

1. Breaks Reduce Stress Buildup

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Source: Microsoft Human Factors Lab

Beta waves are like your brain's stress-o-meter. The more they build up, the more stressed you feel.

The Findings: In back-to-back meetings, beta waves increased over time, showing a cumulative buildup of stress. When participants meditated during breaks, beta activity decreased.

The Science Says: Beta waves are linked to anxiety and tension. They build up when we're engaged in tasks that demand concentration and focus. The study's evidence of breaks reducing this beta wave buildup means a real, tangible drop in stress.

2. Breaks Enhance Focus and Engagement

Frontal alpha asymmetry is a fancy term that tells us about engagement. Positive levels mean higher engagement; negative levels mean the opposite.

What Your Brain Says About Virtual Meetings and Why You Need Breaks
Microsoft Human Factors Lab

The Findings: With meditation breaks, the alpha wave levels were positive, showing better engagement. Without breaks, the levels were negative, indicating less engagement.

The Science Says: Alpha waves are associated with relaxed alertness. Meditation, even short breaks, has been shown to increase alpha waves, enhancing focus and creativity. This study provided real-world evidence of this effect in a business setting.

3. Transitions Between Meetings Spike Stress

Remember those beta waves? They also spike during transitions between calls. They're like the stress ripples in your brain, rising with each change.

The Findings: Researchers noticed that beta wave activity jumped sharply when transitioning between calls without breaks. With meditation breaks, the increase dropped.

The Science Says: This observation points to the stress induced by constantly shifting gears. Beta wave spikes during transitions align with what's known about multitasking's stressful effects on the brain. Breaks reduce this "gear-shifting" stress, leading to a more balanced mental state.

A Simpler, Smarter Way to Work

The evidence is in, and the verdict is clear: more breaks equal less stress and more productivity. It's time for a meeting revolution. With tech giants like Microsoft leading the way, the future of work looks more balanced, more focused, and more humane.

It's not just about surviving those meeting marathons anymore; it's about thriving in them. Try the change, redefine the norm, and discover a simpler, smarter way to work.

Corporate News

Report: Indian startups reduce full-time hiring by 61%

November 18, 2022
The Wellness Tribe Team
Report: Indian startups reduce full-time staffing by 61%

India is experiencing severe hiring cutbacks, according to a recent study released on Monday, showing that permanent staff recruitment has decreased by 61 percent over the last 12 months.

From October 2021 to September 2022, data were collected from more than 25,000 Indian workers working at more than 1,000 companies in 20 different industries.

A recent report from Razorpay's business banking platform RazorpayX Payroll reveals a 1,300% decline in hiring for chief experience officers (CXOs).

Due to the changing dynamics of the startup environment, employment trends have changed significantly over the last year.

The Indian startup ecosystem has proven to be robust and adaptable despite recent challenges. Taking macro forces into consideration, entrepreneurs have formed smaller but more powerful teams to maximize their workforce. Many businesses are cutting their workforces in the midst of the financial winter.

Indian Startups Cut 61% off Permanent Hiring: Razorpay Report
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Another report from my back-of-the-envelope assessment indicates that startups and major tech firms have laid off more than 5,000 Indians in the last month. 

According to some predictions, the Indian economy is anticipated to lay off 16,000 workers by the end of 2022. It seems nobody's job is safe, not even at global behemoths like Twitter or Byju's.

Even though there was a decrease in hiring, the total wage paid to full-time employees increased by 64.7%. It was noted in the survey that the increase in income, particularly among the highest-paid professionals, is not distributed equally between the sexes.

Although employment has declined overall, technology hiring appears to have been the least affected. Technology-related occupations have managed to slightly boost their contributions to the total workforce by 4%, even though the hiring trend has generally slowed down.

A Look at the Gig Economy

It is apparent that companies prefer gig workers over permanent employees as the number of permanent employees has declined. The number of payments made to gig workers has grown by 153% since October 2021. A semi-gig worker model is now being used by 15% more businesses than it was previously.

According to the survey, the majority of semi-skilled gig workers employed by startups earn less than Rs 20,000 per month, followed by those who earn between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000.

Interestingly, these employees have among the weakest growth rates, averaging 26% and 52%, respectively.

Research shows that competent gig workers with earnings between Rs 85,000 and more than Rs 150,000 have experienced the fastest growth over the last year, even though they contribute the least to the overall pool.

Engagement

Igniting Engagement: The Power8 Way to Drive Business Growth

March 2, 2024
Nitesh Padghan

In today's rapidly changing business landscape, employee engagement is more critical than ever. A disengaged workforce can lead to low productivity, high turnover, and financial losses. On the other hand, companies with engaged employees enjoy unparalleled success – outperforming the competition, generating more revenue, and creating a positive work environment where everyone thrives.

Power8, a leading corporate wellness company, understands the intrinsic link between employee well-being and overall organizational success.  With our new initiative, Power8 Ignite, we're taking employee engagement to the next level.

What is Power8 Ignite?

Power8 Ignite is a comprehensive approach to employee engagement, designed to transform workplaces and ignite a deep  connection between employees and their work. It goes beyond surface-level activities, focusing on what truly matters to employees: feeling valued, appreciated, and inspired to contribute their best.

Why Employee Engagement Matters: The Indian Landscape

Employee engagement in India is a complex and evolving issue. While engagement levels are improving, there is still significant room for growth. A recent study found that only 22% of Indian employees are fully engaged, leaving a vast majority of the workforce operating below peak potential.  This disconnect costs businesses an estimated ₹450-500 billion annually in lost productivity and missed opportunities.

However, the outlook isn't entirely bleak. Organizations that prioritize employee engagement consistently outperform those that don't.  According to global research, highly engaged teams demonstrate:

  • 21% increase in profitability
  • 20-25% boost in productivity
  • 41% decrease in absenteeism
  • 50% higher performance against targets

Clearly, the investment in employee engagement is a worthwhile one.  That's where Power8 Ignite comes in.

The Power8 Ignite Approach

Our approach to engagement is multifaceted and personalized to meet the unique needs of each organization.  Here's what sets Power8 Ignite apart:

  • Strategic Planning: We work with you to design custom engagement initiatives that align with your company culture and goals. No cookie-cutter solutions here!
  • Engaging Content: From expert-led workshops to inspiring talks, we provide content that connects with your employees and sparks their enthusiasm.
  • Seamless Execution: Let us take care of the logistics so you can focus on building relationships with your team.
  • Creative Storytelling: We craft compelling narratives that showcase your company's commitment to employee well-being.
  • Thoughtful Appreciation: We provide unique and personalized ways to express gratitude and make employees feel valued.

Power8 Ignite in Action: Programs and Services

Ignite offers a diverse range of programs and activities that can seamlessly integrate into your workplace, whether it's virtual or in-person. Here's a sample of our offerings:

Power8 Ignite is designed to ignite engagement in ways that resonate. Whether you're looking for online sessions or in-person experiences, we'll work with you to design a program that meets your workforce's needs.  Here's how we bring Ignite to life:

Elevating Knowledge and Skills

Power8 Ignite offers a range of educational programs that empower employees to learn and grow. We partner with industry experts to offer insightful talks on current topics, covering everything from industry trends to personal development. Celebrity speakers share their unique journeys and lessons learned, inspiring employees to strive for greater success. We create opportunities for dynamic exchange by facilitating panel discussions and roundtables, where diverse perspectives illuminate complex issues.  To make learning both informational and entertaining, we incorporate quizzes and games, sparking friendly competition and knowledge retention.

Fostering Wellness from the Inside Out

A sense of well-being is crucial to a truly engaged workforce. Our experiential activities focus on holistic wellness. Nutrition workshops explore healthy eating, while stress-management sessions equip employees with coping mechanisms for a more balanced life. Interactive activities encourage movement and mindfulness, leading to a refreshed and energized team.

Building Connection and Collaboration

Positive team dynamics are at the heart of engagement. Ignite offers team-building challenges designed to foster trust, communication, and creative problem-solving.  These activities aren't just fun – they help teams develop skills that directly translate to workplace success.

Celebrating Well-being Together

We believe well-being extends beyond the workday with our focus on family-focused events. These events create space for employees to connect with their loved ones, fostering a sense of community and shared values. Our wellness flea markets provide a vibrant space for discovering products and services that support well-being, offering a unique experience for employees and their families.

The Power8 Advantage

When you partner with Power8 Ignite, you don't just get a program; you gain a dedicated ally in building a thriving workplace culture.  Our impact speaks for itself:

  • Clients Supported: We've proudly partnered with a vast range of organizations, demonstrating our adaptability and proven success in driving engagement across diverse industries.
  • Lives Touched: Our programs have positively impacted the lives of over 800,000 individuals, emphasizing the far-reaching effect of our engagement initiatives.
  • Programs Conducted: We've delivered over 5000 successful wellness programs, showcasing our experience and expertise in transforming workplaces.
  • Hours of Training: More than 7500 hours of dedicated training delivered, reflecting our commitment to ongoing learning and personal development for your employees.

Let's Ignite Your Workplace

Imagine a workplace where employees arrive each day feeling energized, valued, and excited to contribute. A workplace where collaboration flows effortlessly, problem-solving is fueled by creativity, and achieving business goals goes hand-in-hand with promoting well-being.  That's the power of an engaged workforce, and it's what Power8 Ignite can help you create.

We understand that every organization is unique. That's why we'll partner with you to design a customized Ignite engagement program that seamlessly aligns with your company's culture and goals.

Don't settle for a disengaged workforce. Contact Power8 Ignite today and let's transform your workplace into a thriving hub of productivity, innovation, and well-being.

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This month we are focusing on food and how it affects your mental health. Join us as we bring in the most relevant interesting content from across the wellness segment.

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