To meet, or not to meet, that is the question

Thu, 24/09/2015 - 00:00

We’ve talked about meetings often in the Rogerwilco offices lately. We’ve questioned whether internal meetings are always a good idea. We’ve asked whether they are the best use of our time. We’ve wondered if there isn’t a better way.

Opinions are divided. Some people hate meetings. Other people love them. Some people think they are important but need to be better planned and managed. Others think they are okay only if they are short.

During too long meetings, there can be a tendency to zone out leading to a lack of participation. A recent survey asked 1 200 office workers about workday distractions - particularly in meetings. A shockingly high number of people reported doing nonwork activities in meetings. Sending texts, checking personal email and browsing the internet were the most common activities.

An informal survey of Rogerwilco staffers asked what could be done to improve internal meetings. Responses ranged from shortening meetings, ensuring everyone knows the purpose of the meeting and making sure people are prepared for the meeting. It was also suggested people should not be so quick to propose meetings, with one member of the content team pointing out, “If an email can suffice, you don't need a meeting”.

A recent article in The Guardian questioned whether meetings are important for sharing ideas or a waste of time.

“Could business owners get away with scrapping at least some of these official gatherings? Are there better, more efficient ways of holding meetings, or are meetings simply a business tradition that is here to stay?

“The consensus of the business world seems to be that at least some meetings could be dropped without being missed.”

There are methods to ensure meetings - those which are essential - can be more productive. These include:

Standup meetings. Our development and production teams have standup meetings daily. These are short and cover a lot of ground in little time. Sit down meetings are, on average, 34 percent longer than standups but don’t produce better outcomes, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Perhaps other teams could consider having standup meetings more often?

Walking meetings. One of the simplest methods to improve the outcomes of a meeting is to take it for a walk. There is just something about being outside and in the sunshine which increases creativity and problem solving. Fans of the walking meeting? Apple’s Steve Jobs, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

If those names aren’t enough to convince you, think about this - research has shown sitting is almost as unhealthy as smoking. In addition, just five minutes of outdoor exercise daily produces improvements in mood and sense of wellbeing. For happier, healthier staffers, we should all be holding standing and walking meetings.

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