Why Face-to-Face Meetings are Risky Business

By redback

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things about work, from the death of hot desking and shared biscuit tins, to how and where we actually do our work. And it will have a lasting impact on how we meet.

For a start, we can expect fewer face-to-face meetings, and they’re likely to be smaller, shorter and more focused.

Remote meetings are not only here to stay, they’re likely to dominate as the world learns how to cope with the global COVID-19 health crisis in which we find ourselves.

New research conducted by Redback shows that almost 90 per cent of employees at organisations with more than 1000 employees believe remote meetings will dominate the post-pandemic workplace, and 63 per cent of respondents in micro-businesses (up to 15 employees) agreed.

We all know working remotely has become the new norm for many employees, and that number is only expected to increase. But the changes we’re seeing are likely to last.

When Business Insider recently asked 200 CEOs at some of the world’s largest companies how business will be transformed by the coronavirus, all agreed that flexible work would redefine their workforces after the pandemic.

A recent survey by Swinburne University found nearly four in 10 respondents had never worked from home before the crisis. But only 10 per cent said they would not do any work from home in future.

Most managers agreed, with more than 60 per cent saying their teams would work “more” from home after the COVID-19 pandemic, while 14 per cent said staff would do “significantly more” work from home.

Last month, Twitter was the latest company to make working remotely a permanent policy for all its staff that don’t need to be physically present to do their job.

Attitudes are also changing in the office as companies introduce their own physical distancing requirements such as avoiding crammed meeting rooms and unnecessary travel.

Businesses that once thought nothing of sending a sales executive on an hour-long flight for a meeting with a couple of prospects — but now host those meetings via video conference — are going to think long and hard about reverting to their former ways.

It’s no surprise that companies have turned to remote meetings for both internal and external meetings; the future of the traditional face-to-face meeting is looking grim.

However, while video and teleconference meetings ensure physical distancing, our research reveals that poor meeting management is contributing to the growing pains many companies are experiencing when it comes to moving meetings online.

We’ve found that a significant percentage of remote meetings are not being run as effectively as they could by some organisations, with employees raising concerns around length, lack of objectives, and structure.

Almost half told us remote meetings needed to be shorter, and 41 per cent said they should be more structured and productive.

More than a third also said remote meetings needed to be more purpose-driven and result in clearer actions for all attendees.

 

Run a better virtual meeting

With all that in mind, we’ve put together some tips to help you improve the standard of your virtual meetings.

1. Stay on topic 

For starters, it makes sense to keep your virtual meetings as concise and impactful as possible – for everyone. Almost a third of users told us that it was important for all meeting participants to be focused in a meeting – not just some attendees – so make sure your subject matter is relevant to everyone you’ve invited.

2. Keep it succinct 

Consider making remote meetings shorter than traditional face-to-face events, and include breaks for anything longer than 90 minutes. It’s easier to get distracted when you’re not sitting in a meeting room with colleagues.

3. Have an agenda, and stick to it

Get to know the technology, start on time, and make sure you set a firm agenda – and stick to it. Having one person act as the facilitator is a good way to keep everyone focused, manage time and keep a meeting moving along.

4. Make it easy to join

It’s also important to make it as easy as possible for your attendees to join. For example, don’t invite your mobile workforce to a video conference or a webinar if they’re out and about — consider a teleconference instead.

Our One Touch Collaboration service allows participants to join a teleconference, web conference or video conference without dialling a phone number or entering a passcode.

5. Invite the right people

And make sure you invite the right people. Almost 30 per cent of meeting participants believe all key decision-makers should be present in remote meetings.

6. Ask for contributions

Brainstorming, or asking people to contribute ideas on a topic during the meeting, is another great way to keep people’s attention – and it’s easier than you think when you’ve got the right tools.

It’s also very productive. Research by ScienceDirect found that 70 per cent of meeting participants come up with more creative ideas through “electronic brainstorming” versus traditional face-to-face meetings. The study found virtual brainstorming reduced the dominance of more vocal attendees, and increased the diversity of ideas shared by everyone.

7. Use the right technology

It’s critical to make sure you’re choosing the right technology. Don’t fall back on videoconferencing because you’ve heard a lot about it lately. Explore the other remote meeting technologies you can use that promote greater interactivity.

Webinars, for example, enable organisations to create polls, live chats, or Q&As, which are successful at engaging large, dispersed audiences and work well for industry briefings and Town Halls, for example.

Studio broadcasts are ideal for C-suite announcements, while podcasts and live event streaming can engage larger audiences one-to-many.

In any case, it’s worth saving your face-to-face meetings for when they offer the best return on the travel, time and risk involved.

Redback offers managed digital event services on our premium webinar platform and real-time web, video and teleconferencing on any video-enabled device. Reach out to a sales representative if we can help ensure your next meeting runs smoothly.

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