Spring of 2020 ushered in a new way of life for nearly everyone in the world. People were told to work remotely if possible because of COVID-19, and that meant that something that was once viewed as perhaps a luxury was a new norm.
Many people are still working remotely and may continue to do so in 2021.
With that came a lot of attention to virtual meetings and conference calls. There were funny videos and stories about embarrassing moments and technical glitches floating around the internet.
Now, as it looks like remote work may be here to stay on a broader scale than pre-coronavirus, it’s important for businesses and managers to understand how to make video conferences and virtual meetings more productive.
Some of these meetings can be eliminated altogether, which would likely be the preference of many employees.
The following are some things to know about how too many virtual meetings can impact productivity and how to make these meetings more streamlined and more valuable.
How Virtual Meetings and Conference Calls Impair Productivity
The following are some of the ways that your video meetings may be negatively affecting productivity.
- Video conferencing can be distracting, and there was a report published by Wundamail that found 56% of remote workers wanted to spend less time on video calls. Forty-two percent of surveyed workers said they didn’t feel like they contributed anything to virtual calls.
- Zoom and other video conferencing platforms may have technical issues that are problematic from a productivity standpoint.
- Video meetings tend not to have agendas, so it’s just a lot of time spent accomplishing nothing. There should always be an agenda, a plan, and a concrete reason for having a meeting. This is an issue not just in remote environments. It’s something employers have been grappling with as far as in-person meetings as well.
So what are some possible solutions? Video conferencing can play an important role in keeping employees engaged and connected when they’re working remotely, but you have to be strategic in implementing virtual meetings.
Create a Structure For Each Meeting
One of the big problems with virtual meetings, aside from not having a clear purpose, is that employees are often talking over each other and interrupting. It can lead to a sense of disorganization and a lack of focus.
Before you have any meeting, you should first outline your goals and objectives. If you can’t do that, then a virtual meeting might not be the right format.
Once you have specific goals, you can then create a structure that you share with everyone attending.
Include details about when you’ll speak and when other stakeholders or leaders will share their information. Then, structure a time for everyone to share what they’d like to contribute or to ask questions.
Before you have a meeting, there should be a set amount of time that everyone can expect to spend in it, rather than aimlessly meandering.
Share Notes and Follow-Up Before and After Meetings
You always want employees to be as prepared as possible for a video conference or virtual meeting, so you should share the agenda with them in advance. This will give employees a chance to figure out what they might want to ask or to do any research they need to do to prepare for the meeting.
You should also plan to follow-up in writing after every meeting to ensure that key points aren’t missed, and everyone is on the same page.
Create Policies for Meeting Etiquette
You want everyone to be on the same page about meetings in general as far as what their etiquette should be, what happens if they’re late to a meeting, and what they should do if they’re going to miss a meeting.
If you have employees working remotely, create a written virtual meeting policy, and share it with everyone.
The less room there is for ambiguity, the smoother and more productive your meetings are likely to be.
Finally, not everyone has to attend every meeting. Be strategic in not only planning the structure of the meeting but also who comes to the meeting. If there are employees who have nothing to do with your agenda or what you’ll be talking about, there’s no reason for them to take time out of the rest of their workday to attend.
Pare down your invite lists to only the people that most need to attend. It will help the meetings be relevant and also more focused.