Our new working life

Virtual meetings are part of our new daily working life. Of course, COVID has boosted this dramatically and we are spending way more time in virtual than in physical meetings. 70% of employees experienced a 70% increase in meetings since work from home was initiated. It is true that meetings constitute a huge part of work to keep the companies processes intact, but that does not mean that all meetings are productive and companies are always reaching their goals in these meetings. The fact is that nearly 70% of employees complain that they are hindered from being productive at work because of their numbers/hours of meetings they participate in every day. Their complaints are not unsubstantiated. Especially unproductive meetings are stealing the employee’s energy, thinking capacity and endurance. After these unproductive meetings, employees need time to recover, which in the end affects their productivity.

Some studies underpin these facts:

  • On average, employees take part in 62 meetings and 50% of those are a waste of time.
  • 92% of employees find themselves and 69% are checking their emails frequently during those meetings.
  • 49% of employees admitted that they do other unrelated work during meetings rather than paying attention to the meeting agenda itself.

Next time, you can take a look around the “virtual table” and estimate the hourly rate of everyone there. Some studies show that ineffective meetings cost the US Economy up to $283 billion.

With the growing trends of remote employees and also new work environments, virtual meetings are indispensable. To reduce the costs of unproductive meetings, but also increase employee satisfaction, companies have to improve their meeting productivity, so that employees can connect, communicate and work to reach their best performance.

Here are some helpful tips / rules on how to make virtual meetings more efficient.

  • Short & Precise: Keep your meetings to 15-45 minutes, so that all participants can stay focused and make the most out of the time. Define objectives in the agenda.
  • Meeting hopping: Don’t jump from one meeting to the next without breaks. Plan meetings so that you have a short break (coffee, toilet, fresh air). Pro-tip: Schedule meetings so that they do not end on the hour or half-hour (e.g. meeting duration: 14:00 – 14:25).
  • Punctuality: A matter of course that cannot be taken for granted. Arrive on time and end meetings on time. A clear structured agenda or timekeeping helps.
  • Switch off notifications: Prevent distracting pop-ups by either closing programmes you don’t need or activate “Do Not Disturb” on your internet browser / tools.
  • Netiquette: These also apply online, of course. It is important not to interrupt the people speaking or to speak in a hectic manner. One way of creating order in meetings is the “hand up” function. It is also important not to eat during meetings. Sounds obvious, but often it is not.
  • Please smile: Turn on your video function, this helps to“ be present“ and to be able to read the body language of the other participants. Use your laptop and not your smartphone for virtual meetings.
  • Recording & Next Steps: Record individual meetings if people cannot attend an appointment. Send the recording or minutes of the meeting to all participants. Furthermore, all action points, deadlines agreed, and tasks must be distributed among the team members.

To sum up, we are confronted with a ton of unproductive meetings, which don’t always reach the goals from a content point of view, are unnecessary expensive for companies and lead to employee dissatisfaction. The number of virtual meetings is increasing massively every year (especially since the beginning of the pandemic) and therefore it is even more important to stick to clear rules in meetings to achieve more energy, thinking capacity and endurance in our daily work life.


 Autor: Markus Kittenberger

Fellow – https://fellow.app/blog/meetings/virtual-meeting-tips-dos-and-donts/
The Remote Playbook – Git Lab & HeyCater! – Hybrid Work
Otter.ai – https://blog.otter.ai/meeting-statistics/