With digitalization in place now is a good time to reduce the focus on meetings, get more effective work done: study

Insights from a small study conducted with 150 employees in one large corporation have indicated that something as simple as altering the way meetings are conducted can greatly impact productivity in certain work environments.

For one month, Verizon Business analyzed the meeting habits of a team of employees, where the success rates of various changes to meetings were tracked.

The experimental practices were devised in collaboration with the team, recognizing the importance of designing new ways from within and not simply imposing them from the outside. Throughout the month, surveys were sent to participants for continuous daily and weekly feedback, enabling the real-time evolution of processes and practices.

What the results showed

The study authors noted that, while organizations are rethinking their operations, working models and almost every aspect of business due to the changes wrought by the pandemic era, leaders can leverage the lessons learned to innovate and improve their operations to meet customer and employee demands. After the necessary steps towards digital transformation, leaders can take the opportunity to shape how employees adopt and adapt to new collaboration tools and processes.

The study showed:

  • 90% of participants indicated that the new ways of managing meetings had helped improve overall meeting effectiveness
  • 83% indicated they felt more comfortable working through asynchronous modes such as email, collaboration tools, and shared documents
  • 78% indicated they felt like they were wasting less time sitting in meetings where their live participation was not required

According to the firm’s CEO Tami Erwin: “Because at the heart of it all, we know it takes the right technology infrastructure, security, and solutions, along with the right training and resources, to ensure businesses effectively navigate new ways of working.”

According to Erwin, while wholesale changes are important, simple actions may make the biggest difference, such as:

  • Adopting simple, impactful practices to improve meetings:
    • Scheduling 25- or 50-minute meetings with a 5-10 minute lagged start time
    • Clearly stating on the meeting invitation, the purpose and agenda
    • Reassessing the need for regular recurring meetings
  • Identifying and challenging the need for meetings that can be replaced by asynchronous modes of work, such as emails, chats, shared documents, or offline reviews
  • Change how work gets done:
    • Walk the talk: Secure support from a respected leader from the start.
    • Design from within: Understand pain points and arrive at best practices from within the teams that you are targeting for change. Make it their idea.
    • Make adaptation and monitoring easy: Create and re-create supporting tools to drive implementation and measure success. Ensure you have the right technology and solution infrastructure in place to accomplish effective hybrid communications plans.
    • Iterate as you go: Create regular and frequent feedback cycles to support the continued adaptation of new meeting modes and supporting tools.

Making the processes simple and easy to recreate sets the stage for broad expansion across the organization. The experiment can be implemented by any organization.