Meeting More Efficiently: 3 Trends to Test in 2021

“I’m prepared to go forward with it.” – Rod Ponton, lawyer (not a cat)

This week, Texas lawyer Rod Ponton went viral for his struggles with a cat filter during a virtual hearing held via Zoom. This lighthearted video offered a good laugh and a sense of relatability. As many continue to work from home and days are filled with frequent video calls, we can feel Ponton’s frustration.

Zoom (or insert whichever communications platform your team uses) fatigue is real. According to one expert, being on a video call requires more focus, meaning while on video calls we need to work harder to process non-verbal and verbal cues, as well as body language. This consumes a lot of energy. Not to mention the distractions of home (cue dogs barking and kids requesting snacks), the stress of technology working (or not working) properly, and the strain on our eyes and bodies from working on computers all day.

Many of those meetings may also be unnecessary. Endless meetings can deter from overall team productivity. Meetings increase the likelihood of people committing errors during a task because they miss or repeat important components. According to one survey, 65% of workers reported meetings prevent them from completing their own work.

Meetings, especially virtual, will continue to be crucial in 2021, and possibly beyond for those who decide remote work will be a permanent benefit for employees. However, it never hurts to rethink how your organization structures its days. Here are three top trends to consider testing in 2021.

No Meeting Days

Consider a no meeting day, no meeting morning, or no meeting afternoon – a dedicated timeframe where internal meetings are prohibited. This is time dedicated just for work, and the only exceptions are client meetings or urgent meetings to address an immediate need or deadline. Implementing no meeting times require employees to think more about whether or not a meeting is actually necessary. It should also result in more productive meetings when they are scheduled.

The hope is there may be more consideration for what dictates a meeting. This type of schedule will also help your team to plan ahead and block out large amounts of time to complete tasks while they know they can dedicate 100% focus.

Data-Driven Workflow

Analytics platforms such as ActivTrak, Timely, and ZeroedIn document employee performance in real time and automate reporting, replacing the reliance on status updates and work progress often shared in meetings. Managers can turn to data around priority metrics to review team or individual productivity without interrupting employees’ workflow.

This data generates immediate feedback without managers having to wait for catch-up meetings. It also ensures a level of consistency across remote teams because the data is more standardized and there is less chance of human error when reporting.

Human-Centric Time Management

Think strategically about your team and their time. Be disciplined and collaborative. Send out a concise agenda in advance, stating the topics to be covered, and stick with it. Pare down the attendee list to the bare minimum. Limit responses or questions to a 2-minute timeframe so the meeting doesn’t drag on. Appoint one person to take notes or create an in-meeting document for the team to collaborate. Offer transition periods in between video meetings to refresh. Boundaries and transitions are important.

It’s best to go experiment with the different workflow options to ensure whatever process is taken works best for your team, industry, and client needs, as well as your own customer service policy. There’s no blanket approach to meeting more efficiently, but focusing on your people and productivity will help discover the best solution for your organization.

Rebecca Wrenn

Director of Client Services and Operations

Rebecca joined Sweeney in 2014 as an account executive and subsequently shifted roles in 2016 to support the agency leadership team in successfully establishing a highly effective, full-service creative capability, including branding, design, and video production services. In 2020, she pivoted once again to take on a senior account leadership role while simultaneously leading agency operations. With nearly a decade of strategic marketing, communications and creative experience, Rebecca currently directs several agency account teams, while also managing critical aspects of agency’s operations. Her deep knowledge of the account management process and her high creative aptitude are an exceptional benefit to the agency and its clients.