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(Photo : Pexels/Liza Summer) Microsoft Outlook break meeting

If you dread opening your Microsoft Outlook calendar because it always shows back-to-back meetings that always leaves you drained at the end of the day, you are not alone.

Microsoft brain wave activity researchers studied worker's brains on back-to-back virtual meetings, and they were displeased with what they saw, especially what was going on along the gray matter.

Microsoft Outlook gives meeting breaks

The research was published on Apr. 20 on the Microsoft blog, and it confirmed that back-to-back virtual meetings are very stressful, and now, the research is resulting in a silver of mercy arriving on Apr. 20 for Outlook users.

Microsoft decided to add a customizable Outlook feature to set shorter meetings as a default and require breaks before another meeting begins, according to The Verge.

Also Read: Zoom Fatigue: A Real Sickness That You Must Acknowledge; Science Proves Its Existence

For the research, 14 people took part in video meetings all while wearing electroencephalogram or EEG equipment to measure their brain activity.

On the first day, the participants attended stretches of four half-hour meetings back-to-back, the next day they attended another four half-hour meetings interspersed with 10-minute breaks.

Lack of breaks resulted in spikes in the beta waves linked with stress building up and the transition periods between meetings, while breaks allowed the brains to reset and better engage. The pictures of the brain activity while the participants were on a meeting are attached in the Microsoft report.

Microsoft is working on understanding how the new work models are changing the overall wellness and productivity of workers. 

The tech giant is also among the more liberal corporate leaders on the future of work, announcing last year that its workers would be allowed up to 50% work-from-home without the need for manager approval.

Digital overload

Multiple recent research projects at Microsoft have uncovered ways in which remote work is taking a toll on wellbeing, with the company citing that digital overload is real and something has to change.

Microsoft has been concerned about engagement since remote work was implemented last year when the COVID-19 pandemic started. It suddently upended the traditional office culture. 

A recent survey done by the company with the help of its workers found team engagement dipping in the past few months, and that led Microsoft to remind managers that they need to be more attuned to fatigue factors in how they lead into the future.

The new Microsoft Outlook update targets both the individuals and organizations, with the two options existing for the companies and its employees who are using Outlook and are seeking a respite from meetings.

Also, enterprises can set shorten meeting defaults and create space for breaks for all employees, like a five-minute break ahead of all 30-minute meetings, or a 15-minute break after one-hour meetings.

People can override new company settings when their own meeting is being set up, but they will get a notification about the organizational change.

The change does not mean that a worker in a culture where meetings are constant will see a brand new world of work created moving away from endless meetings. This change is only meant to give workers a much needed break and time to reset.

Related Article: 'Zoom Fatigue' Is a Real Condition; Here are the Warning Signs You Should Look Out For

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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