When asked how the organizations are managing their work amidst lockdown? The expected answer would be; online coordination. And the biggest helping hand has been online audio and video calls through which people have been in touch to discuss work day in and day out.
But working from home has actually increased the working hours. The 8-hour shift has, in fact, stretched. Reason? Increased frequency of calls and meetings. Yes. Coordinating virtually has compelled people to connect via calls more than often. Has it devalued the importance of video conferencing? Has the productivity of employees decreased due to online meetings?
A Workplace Insight article reports that according to a study conducted to answer this question, it was found that 81.3% of men think online meetings are a waste of time, and they claim that they were willing to abandon online meetings altogether. The study also revealed that more than half of them agreed that most productive meetings are under 30 minutes long. People are having three to four virtual meetings per day, which is exhausting. Their time is consumed on calls and the daily tasks are getting postponed or delayed. It is leading to prolonged working hours.
So how to make these online or virtual meetings more efficient?
Let’s take a look at some remedial steps.
Limit the calls to a bare minimum
Although the leaders can hold an online meeting as often as they like, that doesn’t mean every decision requires a meeting. It is important to realize that meeting over calls should be restricted only to those matters that require long conversations across multiple people or teams. Small and quick discussions can be taken over chats or voice notes.
If it is continued to call everybody for a conference call for even the smallest matters, pretty soon people will start either refusing to join in or they won’t pay attention during the call. Hence, restricting such calls to critical discussions will save everyone’s time which can be put to doing work rather than discussing it at lengths.
Involve only the necessary personnel
Often it happens that the call invitation sent may include employees not quite relevant for the discussion. Their presence may not provide any valuable input. But it is mandatory for all to attend the online meeting. This wastes the time of these employees. Leaders should keep this in mind when and who to involve in the online meetings to avoid wastage of time. Invite those who really need to be on the call. This will not only improve the team’s productivity but also keep things transparent.
Have an organized meeting
Having virtual meetings can get messier sometimes due to multiple people involved in the absence of a meeting baton. The manager should make sure to lead the online meeting as a normal one. Introducing the agenda, defining what needs to be discussed, and the expected outcomes. Multiple people speaking at the same time only makes chaos. It’s better to design an efficient way. A nice way is to call out each person’s name and allow them to speak on the topic. This way, everyone gets to put their point, bringing different opinions on the table and it also keeps the call crisp and hassle-free.
Keep employees engaged
Being on three to four calls daily can be tiring for the employees and may get boring. The organizer thus needs to think of how to keep these meetings engaging and interesting. Engrossing visuals or use of storytelling techniques can prove quite successful in making the meeting fruitful for all. This also gives an opportunity to propagate the meanings and message en masse across different teams, where necessary. Captivating them through the visual content also ensures that people are not distracted by other work like emails.
Keep it brief
Insights from JLL mention that the human attention span is between 10-18 minutes. That’s why most of the organizations are finding creative ways to keep meetings within 15 minutes. While it is important to hold meetings for important discussions, it should be kept as precise, crisp, and short as possible. This will ensure discussion of tasks at hand only and not deviate to other matters. This will help in maintaining the sanctity of these calls, otherwise, people may start taking work calls for granted, devaluing the whole purpose.
Organizations must remember that most people aren’t used to remote working and many are still struggling to figure out ways to do it well. The last thing they need is to be stuck in front of their laptops attending online meetings one after the other. Optimizing these meetings can take the team towards productivity and also send a message towards the employees that the organization values their time and efforts, something quite necessary to boost their morale at the time.