For hybrid and remote teams, meetings are essential. They ensure we stay aligned and connected and even beat the work from home loneliness.
But despite the benefits of meetings, the ease of organizing and attending them, particularly online, has led to excessive meetings, with a significant portion being unproductive. This inability to have effective team meetings disrupts people's ability to achieve flow and deep work, reducing their focus and concentration.
Studies show that reducing meetings positively impacts productivity, job satisfaction, autonomy, communication, cooperation, and engagement and decreases stress and micro-management. Employees who own their to-do lists and have fewer meetings report higher satisfaction and improved work outcomes.
Our tips for managing remote teams, or any leadership strategies, software, or tools will work to increase employee's productivity and satisfication.
How to start meeting less and meeting better:
Give your team enough time to focus and get great work done by meeting well and meeting less. Practice these five tips to ensure your meetings are worthwhile and you get the most out of your time together.
Have a clear agenda:
A clear and concise agenda is essential for any meeting, but it's crucial for hybrid and remote team meetings. The agenda should outline your meeting purpose, discussion topics, and expected action items. Share the agenda in advance so everyone can come prepared with their input.
Choose the right meeting format:
Instead of using only video conferencing, consider audio-only meetings, instant messaging, or email when appropriate. Different meeting formats can be more effective for different types of discussions or situations. For example, audio-only meetings may be more suitable for one-on-one conversations or quick check-ins, while video conferencing may be better for group discussions or presentations.
Engage all participants:
To ensure that all participants feel engaged and included in the meeting, encourage everyone to participate, give everyone a chance to speak, and actively listen to each other's ideas. Consider using interactive tools, like polls or breakout rooms, to promote engagement and interaction. I've rounded up some great platforms like this in virtual meeting platforms to make remote work effective and engaging.
Respect time zones and personal schedules:
For hybrid and remote teams, time zones can be a significant challenge, as do expectations that people can arrange their schedules. To ensure everyone can attend the meeting, schedule it at a time that works for everyone and announce the meeting with plenty of time for people to fit it into their schedule (or ask for an alternative slot.) Consider rotating meeting times to accommodate everyone's schedules.
After the meeting, send out meeting minutes or a summary of what was discussed, including any action items or decisions made. Ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and deadlines, and follow up to ensure everything is on track. This will help to keep everyone accountable and informed. Note-taking tools like Fireflies keep a written record of every meeting, making it easier for everyone to have the right information and avoiding information asymmetry.
Key stats about hybrid and remote meetings:
Software and tools to use for better meetings:
- Creating better meeting agendas: Notion, Google Docs, Monday.com, ClickUp
- Best-in-class meeting platforms: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans, Whereby
- Automated meeting notes & to-do's: Meetgeek, Fireflies, Otter, Grain
- Schedule meetings: Calendar, Calendly, Clockwise
- Better one-on-ones: Culture Amp, Pingboard, Lattice, OfficeVibe
If you're looking to improve your meetings right away, don't look further than these free Office Backgrounds for Zoom (and Teams + Google Meet.)
Read more about fewer and better meetings:
- Cindy Solomon's TED video "5 tips for dealing with meeting overload" explains how and why we end up in useless meetings.
- Our deep-dive on why we spend too much time in meetings, and the F.A.I.R. framework for better meetings.
- The foundational, "Dear Manager, You’re Holding Too Many Meetings," by Benjamin Laker and team in Harvard Business Review.