The coronavirus has certainly challenged organizational resilience and agility in new and different ways – the transition to remote work, reliance on virtual technology tools and the lack of face-to-face interaction are just a few workplace impacts. One of the biggest issues – before the pandemic and especially now – is the number of online meetings we must attend. That is why Resigility and our clients are embracing going “meetingless” to avoid wasting time that can be better used to accomplish real work, produce results and create a positive cultural change.
Too many meetings
Don’t get me wrong: I recognize the value of our Resigility team meetings to ensure we’re moving forward together. I also believe in regularly engaging clients to help them on their transformational journeys, suggest strategies to improve operations and enhance the work environment, or capture new opportunities. Yet, I firmly believe too many work meetings can become the bane of our existence and detrimental to efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and job satisfaction.
Well before the pandemic, there was significant evidence reflecting the workforce was experiencing meeting overload. Based on a 2018 Salary.com survey, The Wall Street Journal indicated “too many meetings” as the top time-waster at the office, cited by 47 percent of 3,164 workers. The Harvard Business Review also highlighted this issue in a July-August 2017 article aptly titled, “Stop the Meeting Madness,” noting executives, on average, spend nearly 23 hours a week in meetings, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s.
In collaborating with our clients, we’ve also seen anecdotal evidence reinforcing the trouble of too many meetings. While I love technology and appreciate the capability of connecting with anyone, anywhere, in-person contact can often overcome virtual meeting negatives.
Our partnership with a federal provides a tangible example of the advantages of overcoming the plethora of workplace meetings. The CIO of this organization is committed to cultural change and empowering the team to raise issues and address problems head-on. This leader typically holds a monthly open mic meeting for all 300 employees to ask questions, talk and address concerns. Resigility provides this CIO with topics to start the conversation, but last November, the plan was to hold a true open mic, with no topics! Just straight question and answer.
The result had the proverbial upside and downside. On one hand, people felt comfortable raising problems with leadership. On the other, this call went a little off the rails, with complaints about too many meetings, being overworked, not enough time to complete assignments and the always-on work environment that plagues so many organizations.
We recognized this feedback as an opportunity to propose an idea for overcoming meeting burnout: no-meeting days, which this organization had never tried before. In partnership with the CIO, we picked a day in December and communicated to everyone to cancel all regularly scheduled meetings, with the one exception being previously arranged customer gatherings.
The outcome was a resounding and overwhelming success, with employees appreciating that their collective voice had been heard and gaining a day dedicated to finishing individual work or team projects. We further partnered with the CIO to implement a more permanent change, establishing what we call Momentum Mondays – essentially, no-meeting days, every other week. Again, the CIO has received positive employee feedback and a sense of improved morale.
If you’re committed to change management, listening to team feedback and open to new ideas, Resigility encourages you to try periodic meetingless days in your organization.