Many team members have been working from home or remotely for well over a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with several companies citing they won’t go back to the office fully in the foreseeable future — if ever. In fact, according to Forbes, the percentage of workers permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021 and 74% of companies plan to permanently shift team members to remote work.
Working from home has led many to complain about “too many meetings” to stay connected virtually. HR Executive says 76% of professionals participate in virtual meetings, leading to what many are calling “Zoom fatigue.” But is it more than just being on camera constantly that’s a problem? Could it be that you’re attending too many meetings that aren’t all necessary?
Whether your organization is continuing to work remotely or planning on transitioning back into the office, an abundance of meetings can impact work-life balance. Here are some tips to help you and your team cut back on meetings and achieve smarter schedules:
Develop a smarter schedule
We all want to avoid back-to-back, hour-long video meetings throughout the week. Instead of scheduling meetings for one-hour time blocks, try a 45-minute meeting to give everyone a chance to stand up, stretch and refresh before their next block of meetings. Don’t need the full hour? End early or consider scheduling quick 10-to-15-minute touch-bases instead of a full half hour or hour session just because that’s the default calendar timeframe.
Build lunches and short breaks into your calendar to get time away from your desk. Also check your team’s calendars to see if you can adjust meetings to every other week.
Does it need to be a meeting?
Just because everyone can quickly schedule video meetings does not mean every interaction has to be a video meeting. You can convert a meeting to an email, chat or phone call if you have a quick question or not everyone can make the scheduled meeting time. If you need to share data or information, don’t read slides or pages of data out loud to a group. Let team members read or absorb that information on their own time. If you require individual feedback or updates, use email or office instant messenger services to check in with co-workers quickly throughout a project and save any extra disruptions.
If you determine you need a meeting, keep it organized so it doesn’t run longer than necessary. When you need to have a meeting, consider the following: set clear, obtainable goals and objectives; share an agenda and any reading materials beforehand; keep it quick and end early if you can; only include necessary participants; and ask for feedback from the group to help you plan and improve future meetings.
Does every single member of your team need to attend every single meeting all together, or can you divide and conquer? For example, if you notice you are double-booked for important meetings, choose which one you want to attend and ask a team member to cover the other. Then, share notes and follow up on action items afterward.
Set meeting-free times
It’s not always possible, but many teams that do this report better productivity and more focus time for individual work. This can look different for everyone depending on what works best for their team and their roles, but blocking out chunks of your calendar can help you focus on getting things done.
Following these tips should help you conquer your schedule and enjoy virtual working. Think of your time like money — you have to budget it, or you will run out and feel stressed. Take control of your schedule and enjoy the freedom that virtual working provides.
Jen Parks is the Director, HR Business Partner at Priority Health. In this role, she helps develop and execute on the human capital components of the Spectrum Health/Priority Health HR strategy.