In the 1960s, executives were spending less than 10 hours in meetings each week. Fast forward to the present, however, and those in managerial positions are now spending almost 23 hours a week in them, on average.
Meetings are ingrained in corporate culture. Yet when misused, they can also be a complete drain on a company’s output.
A US study released earlier this year found that when two meeting-free days were enforced each week, employee productivity increased by 71%. The study also found other advantages of reduced meetings, including a significant increase in staff communication, engagement, and satisfaction. Additionally, a reduction in micromanagement and stress was also reported.
So, how can you eliminate unnecessary meeting time in order to reap the same benefits for you and your team? We’ve included our top tips below.
Use an App for Time Tracking
In order to reduce the time your team spends in unnecessary meetings, it’s important to first determine how many hours are being spent doing this each week.
Time Tracker by eBillity can be used to track the exact amount of time your organization spends in meetings. You may be surprised by how many hours are being accrued — especially when you track those impromptu gatherings that haven’t been scheduled. This then helps you to set a realistic goal for the number of meeting hours you want to reduce.
Time tracking also allows you to see how employees are spending their time throughout the workday, including those who work offsite. With access to this data, you can also determine if the time spent in meetings is necessary, or a hindrance to your project’s bottom line.
Technology has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives, especially within the workplace. It allows us to connect remotely, chat in real-time, and distribute information at the click of a button.
As technology continues to evolve, and our reliance on it grows, it makes sense that we can utilize it to cut down on unnecessary meetings.
Applications such as G Suite and Office 365 allow workers to collaborate remotely, while sites such as Trello and Asana allow for easy project management. Slack and Zoom, on the other hand, can be used for instant messaging or video calls. Finally, email shouldn’t be overlooked for its ease of communication and information exchange.
Unlike in-person meetings, technology can also make it easier for team members to have access to all of the project-related information, without the need to take notes.
Executives need to ask themselves, can the issue be resolved in a few minutes via email? If the answer is yes, forgo the thirty-minute meeting and allow your team members to spend that time on other tasks instead.
Swap Unnecessary Meetings for Quick Status Reports
It’s important to keep on track of team progress when working on a large project. However, a quick status report – rather than a lengthy meeting – can provide the same information in a fraction of the time.
Project reports provide high-level information regarding project progress. They allow team members to see what’s on track and what’s coming up next, at-a-glance.
In contrast to in-person meetings, project status reports are provided through a centralized platform that team members may access virtually. They can revisit the information or delve deeper into the project as needed.
Set ‘No Meeting’ Days
Earlier, we mentioned that having two meeting-free days per week increases productivity by an impressive 71%. If the idea of reducing meetings to just three days each week is overwhelming, not all is lost. The same study showed that even having just one meeting-free day per week can boost employee productivity by 35%.
Doing so allows workers to have at least one day per week when they can achieve deep work due to fewer interruptions. The phrase “deep work” refers to setting aside time for intentional and highly concentrated work. By conducting their activities in a state of distraction-free focus, employees can push their cognitive capabilities to their limits.
Try a Stand-Up Instead
The stand-up method is very popular among tech companies, however other industries are starting to see its benefits too. A stand-up is a quick and regular status meeting where workers report on what they’ve just completed, what they’ll be accomplishing next, and what difficulties they think may arise — all while standing up.
While some find that standing up helps the meeting remain brief, you can replicate these same results in any setting, even while sitting down. You can even swap the formal meeting room for a coffee shop or park for a change of scenery.
Give each team member 30 seconds to one minute to speak. You can also use a timer to help individuals adjust to the shortened time frame and to hold them accountable.
Set a Clear Purpose and Goal for Each Meeting
Without having a clear agenda in place, a meeting can easily drag out unnecessarily, wasting everyone’s time. That’s why it’s a great idea to determine the purpose and goal of each meeting before it’s held.
Have a specific reason for holding the meeting and write down what needs to be accomplished and when. By allocating a time limit to the meeting (and ensuring everyone adheres to it), you can also make your meeting as time-efficient as possible.
In some cases, you may even find that a meeting isn’t needed and instead opt for a stand-up, progress report, or simple email.
Your Team’s Time is Valuable
Meetings are a necessary part of a company’s culture. However, reducing the time spent in meetings can increase their effectiveness, while giving employees more time back for completing vital tasks.
How much time could your company be wasting in superfluous meetings? Try eBillity’s free, 14-day Time Tracker trial to find out.