A phrase I hear a lot lately is “Zoom meetings.” A few weeks ago, a colleague mentioned they had back to back online meetings all day and as such couldn’t do anything else. What annoyed him was not having to attend so many meetings but the fact that most of those meetings were in his words “useless.”
COVID-19 forced people to adapt to new ways of working. Teams could no longer meet in person. This led to a spike in online meetings. However, if you are in back to back meetings 3 days a week, your productivity is going to suffer. When will you have time to work on those action items (action items are being assigned at the end of those meetings, I hope?)
At some point during the past three months, you have probably attended a lot more online meetings than you normally would. If you are anything like me, you probably wondered why some of those meetings took place or why you were invited in the first place? COVID-19 has changed the way we work. More teams are staying in touch using digital technology. Zoom, the video conferencing app saw its shares increase in value as more people signed up to take part in online meetings.
It is understandable that as we continue to work from home, we will have to attend more online meetings. What many people don’t seem to realise, however, is that an online meeting is similar to a physical meeting in one crucial way: there is no guarantee that the meeting will be productive. A lot of people send out invites to online meetings because they confuse busyness with productive. Their supervisor is no longer breathing over their shoulder so they fear being thought of as slackers if they didn’t convene a meeting every few days.
I dislike meetings. Especially those that go on for two hours and the only task you have to do at that meeting is listen. Many meetings can drag on way too long and go beyond schedule. Despite this, a lot of people seem to like meetings because they create the illusion of one having been productive. They are supposed to be places where ideas get discussed. When they run too long, however, most people start checking their phones under the table (if they can get away with it) or even fall asleep.
Meetings are inevitable for some people. If you are one of those people, you have my sympathies. However, there are some policies you can get your organisation to adopt that can make your meetings more productive.