Too Many Meetings: How to Improve Remote Work Productivity
Employees often complain about having too many meetings. Are these complaints examples of normal workplace discontent, or do they have a point?
A recent study found that 46% of employees think they attend too many unnecessary meetings. Researchers put the average amount of time spent in these meetings at 18 hours per week. Unfortunately, the time spent in real or virtual conference rooms interrupts other work-related tasks. 70% of meetings delayed the completion of necessary tasks. A Harvard study found even more dramatic statistics. 92% of workers claimed meetings kept them from their regular work duties.
In other words, the amount of meetings the average worker must attend during the week has a negative impact on their productivity.
If meetings are hurting job performance, why do companies continue to have so many of them? Is there a way to make meetings more productive? Is there a solution to the problem of too many meetings?
Why does management continue to hold unnecessary meetings? There are several reasons that companies persist with a full meeting schedule, especially in hybrid workplaces.
Managers may feel the need to compensate for the lack of face-to-face interaction by holding a higher number of meetings via Zoom or other video conferencing tools.
Also, with no need to travel and no time lost to office conversations, coffee breaks, and other normal office activities, managers feel that it is possible to stack meetings one after another, filling workers' schedules without realizing it.
The organization may be difficult because of unclear roles and responsibilities or management not trusting workers to complete their duties while working remotely.
The issue of too many meetings at work seems to be a symptom of not having the right communication strategies or project management approaches and a lack of proper tools and systems to facilitate productive collaboration in remote offices.
Less meeting time should give workers more time to complete their daily tasks. The Harvard study cited above found that when companies reduced meeting time by 40%, worker productivity increased by 70%. Also, when employees were empowered with the right tools and given more autonomy, their performance improved, and they enjoyed greater job satisfaction.
Not only are their schedules freer, but workers can take advantage of their extra autonomy to figure out the most efficient ways to complete their work. They make their own agendas and structure their days in a way that works best for them.
Does this mean your company should do away with meetings altogether? Of course not. Well-organized team video conferences or phone calls with a proper meeting agenda and defined goals are still effective at ensuring team members understand goals, timelines, and other essential information. You can use a meeting template to ensure that each event has a clearly defined purpose and is necessary and not a waste of time.
This approach can ensure that every meeting you do have remains productive.
What about the issue of an excessive number of meetings for remote teams? Rather than seeing the remote arrangement as a negative, managers and employees can take advantage of the positive attributes of a decentralized workplace to replace meetings with other forms of communication and interaction.
For example, asynchronous communication can help reduce meeting times while keeping everyone informed about tasks that are not as time-sensitive. Synchronous meetings are when everyone attends and gets the information simultaneously. However, for remote workers, it is just as easy to get the info asynchronously using emails, recorded audio or video, or other media they can view when they have time.
With additional tools, such as a message board or chat application, employees can follow up with the meeting facilitator or manager if needed.
A virtual office, like Kumospace, offers the tools necessary to reduce meetings while increasing productivity. The virtual office platform (also known as a virtual workspace) facilitates quick chats and asynchronous communications, as well as tools for streamlined virtual meetings and collaboration.
Rather than piecing together a virtual office with different chat apps, document editing software, online calendars, and project management platforms, you can use a complete virtual office setup that has all the necessary communication, meeting, and collaboration tools in one place.
Here are some additional tips for reducing meeting time.
You can create office hours when employees can connect with you for unstructured conversations. Options for doing this can include setting up an office near your teammates, maintaining a conference room for informal chats, or defaulting to your virtual HQ for all video meetings.
A virtual office can also help build workplace culture. One way to do this is to mute your sound but keep your video feed on to encourage accountability. You may also want to set up spaces for collaboration on specific projects.
You can use Kumospace tools to foster a sense of belonging outside of work hours. For example, you can set up virtual events, such as book groups, board game nights, or yoga clubs, that employees have the option to attend.
You can use the platform to provide ways for employees to remain engaged and excited about their work. One option to facilitate this is to hold virtual events in common areas with a range of activities to cater to the broadest audience. You can also get input from team members about how to customize the workspace.
You should also make it a point to recognize wins. For example, you can announce successes, ring a bell when someone makes a sale or wins a new contract, or decorate a co-worker's office space on their birthday.
When you hire a remote employee, you can begin modeling what the virtual workplace should look like from the beginning during the onboarding process. In addition to teaching strategies for efficient communication and collaboration, you can put reminders on a virtual whiteboard and use screen-sharing features to explain the nuances of your office's processes.
If you have the right plan, you can make some meetings optional. Employees who have legitimate tasks can opt-out. Someone can take meeting notes and send them to non-attendees so that they can look them over the ensure they didn't miss any vital information.
You can reserve meeting days or limit meeting times to specific hours to avoid conflicts with upcoming deadlines or the most productive times. You may want to get feedback from employees about ideal times for meetings.
Each meeting you hold should have a clear goal and a concise plan for reaching that goal. You can ask yourself if there is another way to efficiently convey the information you want to share in the meeting and get feedback from attendees. If the answer is 'no," then the meeting is likely worth the time.
Researchers suggest that the ideal meeting time is about 25 minutes. However, you can run the meeting for as long as necessary to accomplish the stated goals.