Here's what remote workers are actually doing during your "dull" virtual presentations

Companies are using a vast suite of tools to enable remote teams. Apparently, remote workers are doing lots of non-work-related things during presentations, according to a new study.

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Image: GettyImages/GaudiLab

Over the last year, telecommuting has replaced traditional on-site work for many professionals around the globe. During this time, organizations have used a host of tools to enable remote operations with varying degrees of success. On Wednesday, design platform Canva released a study entitled "Bridging the Hybrid Workforce Divide" highlighting employee sentiments about virtual collaboration, remote presentations and distracted tendencies during these events.

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Remote work collaborations tools

Overall, the study involved 1,000 full-time employees across the U.S. According to the findings,  one in five employees (21%) will telecommute full time "following the pandemic" and more than one-third "expect a mix of remote and in-office work," according to a Canva blog post about the findings. The remaining 41% expect to work on-site after the pandemic.

Unlike traditional on-site operations, remote work comes with its own unique set of logistical and technical challenges to help teams collaborate from afar. The vast majority of respondents (84%) said they "need new and improved technologies" to collaborate remotely and 77% said that "collaboration during the pandemic has been more challenging than" it was before.

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To enable remote operations, companies have used programs ranging from virtual whiteboards and video conferencing platforms. About half of workers "struggle when using presentation software" and (78%) said that "fostering inclusion and participation" among telecommuters, hybrid and on-site workers is challenging.

"Legacy software and tools were not designed to meet the demand of the hybrid workforce that is emerging after the pandemic. Today, online collaboration is at the core of almost all work and employees need tools that promote creativity, make collaboration easy, and bring people together," said Guy Kawasaki, Canva's chief evangelist, in a blog post.

Distractions and multitasking

During remote presentations, 89% said they frequently become "distracted" or multitask and the top reported distractions while others present include checking the inbox (42%), finishing work unrelated to the meeting (28%), scanning social media (28%) and "using the bathroom" (27%).

Other top reported distractions during meetings include "reading the news" (26%), making food (26%) "listening to music" (26%) and online shopping (25%).

A portion of the study asked workers what components made "their colleague's presentations lackluster." The top responses include the presentations being too long (60%), containing excessive data (54%) or featuring "dull or uninspiring slides and visuals" (52%), according to a release about the findings.

Despite these challenges and distractions more than half of the workers (54%) believe brainstorming in a remote setting is easier compared to on-site work and 26% would prefer in-person contribution. About one-quarter of respondents felt in-person brainstorming was comparatively easier and 20% were neutral on the topic.

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