In today’s remote work context, excessive meetings can easily become a frustrating reality for many workers. With countless video conferencing tools and communication platforms at our disposal, it can be tempting to schedule a meeting for any communication that could be done through an email or a simple message. However, research shows that meetings have a negative impact on both productivity and employee satisfaction.
A study conducted by Harvard Business Review revealed that more than 60% of respondents felt meetings kept them from completing their own work, with almost 70% of meetings being considered unproductive. It’s no surprise many remote workers are looking for ways to reduce their caseload of meetings.
Here are some tips on how to manage meetings efficiently in a remote work setting:
Schedule Meetings on Set Days and Times
One of the best ways to manage meetings is to schedule them on set days and times, instead of constantly interrupting people’s workflows by scheduling them sporadically throughout the day or week. Creating a regular schedule can also help ensure that everyone is available to attend the meeting without interfering with their work hours or deadlines.
For example, a team that meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. can make the necessary preparations in advance and know what to expect. This approach not only helps to organize everyone’s schedules, but it can also promote better attendance and preparation as team members know ahead of time when the meeting is going to take place.
Use Agendas to Maximize Time
Agendas can significantly improve the structure and productivity of any meeting. A well-prepared and thought-out agenda outlines specific topics that need to be discussed, questions that need to be answered, and tasks that need to be accomplished.
Distribute the agenda before the meeting, so everyone knows what to expect and can prepare necessary materials in advance. Stick to the agenda to ensure that all topics are discussed and adequately addressed without exceeding the designated time frame.
Limit Meeting Duration and Number of Participants
Meetings should be held within a set time frame, ideally not exceeding one hour. If the meeting’s agenda can be achieved in less than an hour, do not stretch it out artificially. Time is a precious commodity, and overstaying meetings can cause a buildup of pending work.
In addition, having too many participants in a virtual meeting can cause missing or interrupting critical information sharing, resulting in meetings being longer than necessary. Consider limiting the number of participants to the necessary amount while still respecting the nature of the meeting.
Organize a Meeting-Free Day Once a Week
Instituting a meeting-free day can help people to become more productive, allowing them to have a break from constant video calls and giving them more time to focus on individual assignments. For example, setting Wednesdays as a meeting-free day can give people an opportunity to tackle their most pressing and demanding tasks.
Use Other Communication Tools
Not all communication needs to take place over a video call, and in many cases, using other forms of communication can be more efficient than holding a meeting.
For example, a quick question can often be answered through an instant messenger, while information sharing can be done through email or collaborative platforms. Try to consider the nature of the message you want to transmit and determine what the best communication medium is.
Shorten Meeting Duration by Beginning With a Quick Recap
It is easy for participants to lose context over what has been covered in previous meetings. This can lead to confusion and repeated discussions, ultimately taking up more time than necessary.
To avoid this, start each meeting with a quick recap of the previous meeting and everything that was discussed. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page, and the current meeting can begin right where the last one left off.
Encourage Participation and Interaction
Encouraging participation and interaction can make meetings more productive and efficient. Virtual meetings can often be impersonal or simply a one-way transmission of information. Engaging all participants in some way can help them feel involved, valued and invested in the meeting outcomes.
Encourage and ask people to participate in the discussion or to provide input, or give people time to present their thoughts and ideas on a topic. When people are invested in the conversation, they will be more likely to actively participate.
Meetings are an essential part of remote work, but when not managed efficiently, they can lead to decreased productivity, employee burnout, and dissatisfaction. By adopting the tips mentioned above, teams can manage meetings in a manner that promotes better participation, reduces stress, and allows members to accomplish their individual tasks without interruption. Remember, it’s important to strike a balance between holding necessary meetings and providing space for employees to focus on their work.