Improving Virtual Meetings to Maximize Employee Productivity
One thing is certain, the outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the tides of business operations. Businesses have continued to engage their people through various online platforms and meetings have remained one relevant channel of communication. Meetings remain one way we coordinate our work and get them done. In-person meetings have migrated to virtual conferences, albeit most people have indicated that their meetings are not always useful or productive and considered a waste of time.
Most employees consider meetings to be a stall on their productivity as some dislike the idea of sessions in between work hours. According to survey findings from West Unified Communications Services, “86% of employees feel meetings are necessary. Of those who value meetings, 42% think they are essential to achieve results, while 44% think they can achieve positive results without attending as many meetings as they do.”
With the outbreak of the pandemic, the use of virtual meetings has heightened, and the critical question is: have such meetings helped to improve employee performance and productivity?
A report from Wundamail Crisis Report 2020 revealed that “overindulgence in virtual conferences costs businesses more than $1250 per employee each month in wasted time”. The report was conducted to identify the economic and social challenges facing businesses in the current global pandemic, and examine productivity levels, workflow, and communication to provide managers and employees insight into better remote team management during the spread of Covid-19.
Following further findings, it was evident that frequent meetings during work hours cause interruptions that plummet the performance drive of employees and cause distractions. “42% of those surveyed stated that they were “more productive” after working for an extended period of uninterrupted time.” It’s also easy to track the level of team engagement as most team members do not contribute during virtual meetings.
Another “56% surveyed wished they spent less time on video-calls altogether, suggesting many teams are excessively using video apps, not achieving their work tasks and calling for virtual meetings to be reduced.” To bolster this further, “73% of respondents regarded video-conferencing as getting “work-done,” which suggests that video calls, for some, give a dangerous illusion of productivity – when in reality, very little work is completed or produced.”
The big question is how should businesses upscale their employees’ engagement & productivity via virtual meetings?
Meetings contribute a great deal to getting work done and relatively higher team performance. This further results in better decision making which yields invigorating results. Here are a few tips that can help improve your team’s engagement during virtual meetings and facilitate the productive use of their time:
Defined Purpose: This phase starts before communicating meeting invites/agenda. Depending on the meeting proposed, the host should clearly understand the purpose of the meeting before communicating with team members. This process will also help set out a clear and concise agenda for the meeting.
Start Engagement before the Meeting: One dynamic way to engage the team is getting it started before the meeting time. Our recommendation is that the host shares a few tips or questions and expectations from everyone when communicating the invites/agenda of the meeting. This approach will improve the team’s engagement as everyone is expected to contribute to one aspect of the meeting. This approach gives everyone a chance to speak.
Tip: Consider talking for 12 minutes or less in a meeting scheduled for one hour, throw questions, and hear amazing ideas pop.
Create Psychological Safety: In her book on “The Fearless Organization” by Professor Amy C. Edmondson of Harvard Business School, Psychological Safety is “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” In her research of almost 30 years, Psychological safety is considered an “Enabler” and one factor that has a strong impact on teams’ high performance in every business.
It is important not to focus only on the content or specific outline, but also on how your team feels or shows up for the meeting.
Limit Video Conferencing: It can be emotionally exhausting repeatedly seeing your colleague’s face. we will advise that at least 30% of the virtual meetings can be video as people tend to forget important information after the video-meeting is over. Notwithstanding the many barriers that come with video meetings, Wundamail Crisis Report 2020 states the need for businesses to reduce video-chatting and increase written approach and daily check-ins into their remote set-ups to keep productivity levels consistent.
Follow-Ups: A productive meeting without follow-ups could lead to zero results. Written communication should be encouraged during the virtual sessions as it helps team members to contribute independently. For instance, team members can be encouraged to note their ideas/comments in the chatbox, document relevant information for easy reference while a session is on. This engaged approach will further yield better workflow and collaboration.
No doubt the world is experiencing a ton of changes and the corporate sector is not left out. Virtual meetings are here to stay and so organizations must ensure they maximize the outcomes from such meetings. This article has highlighted several critical steps organizations must take to ensure productive time is not wasted hosting virtual meetings.