Effective meetings are an important factor of performance in companies, and for remote-first companies especially. Yet, not all meetings are created equal. The essence of an effective meeting revolves around purpose, thoughtful preparation, and an engaging presentation.
The remote work space witnessed an increase in video calls and virtual collaborations, as the pandemic reshaped the way we knew “offices”. And with this shift, the efficacy of meetings began to blur, changing some meetings into casual interactions rather than productive collaborations.
Quality decisions and timely actions are the foundation of effective remote meetings. But several studies show that people spend significant time in meetings, but a sizable portion of them are reported as ineffective.
As a response to the changing office dynamics, with remote or hybrid working environments, many companies have seen an increase in the number of meetings for people to get the proper face-to-face time with colleagues.
However, it's not merely about the quantity but the quality of interactions. Well-structured meetings will result in better decisions but also inspire people to feel motivated and energized. But, the quality of remote meetings is key. They need to work.
Prioritizing time, and designing effective meetings
Personal growth is driven by ‘unstructured time’. Time which is available for learning, exploring, casual discussions, and other activities that develop us as individuals. Striking the right balance between structured meetings and individual time contributes to a sense of purpose in daily work routines. And therefore in the end, it will benefit decision-making speed and quality.
We need to recognize time as a valuable resource.
It's crucial for companies to address time management as a company strategy, rather than viewing it as an individual's concern. The key lies in achieving a balance in time allocation—between external interactions, internal meetings, and independent work.
Optimizing meeting efficiency
The goal should not be to merely fill schedules with meetings but to question whether a meeting is indeed necessary. Critically looking at the purpose of a meeting, and considering the added value versus individual decision-making is crucial. Appointing a "chief of staff" or operations leader can help in coordinating meetings, ensuring there is a clear purpose and preparation.
Next to that, clarity on the roles of meeting participants is essential.
As an example, some companies choose to categorize participants as decision-makers, advisers, recommenders, and execution partners to help streamline meetings, ensuring effective contributions from each role.
Structuring meetings for success
Like participants, meetings can also be categorized to provide clarity on the purpose, and to make sure there is a desired outcome. For example they can be categorized into decision-making, creative / brainstorming, and information-sharing meetings.
Differentiating them this way, and structuring each with specific objectives, results in an efficient use of time and resources. And it helps to align the meeting discussions with their intended outcomes.
As an addition, the number of people in meetings is an important factor when it comes to efficiency, even if you categorize them. Many remote companies have made drastic changes in the number of allowed meeting participants to make sure there can be decisions made, and there is enough contribution from each. Sometimes, time is simply better spent not attending.
In conclusion, enabling purposeful and well-structured remote meetings is highly important in the new landscape of work.
By focusing on effective time management, strategic meeting design, and implementing best practices, companies can limit themselves to just having productive, inclusive, and efficient remote meetings.
Where decisions are actually made, with valuable contributions from every attendee, and without every possible person in the team attending.