Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Please Rethink Meetings

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So if we all work from home more, we still have to talk to people. That means meetings, and not just the usual ones. This is something that the Pandemic is teaching us, and reality is a harsh teacher and a harsher grader.

If you’re working from home, you’ve probably encountered this: you start holding more meetings! You can’t find people because you can’t walk to their desk and everyone’s schedule is now different! So what do you do? You schedule a meeting.

So if you’re anything like me, suddenly all your day is meetings. Sure, they’re meetings to do things you’d usually do anyway, but they’re still meetings with all that entails. Me, after having a day with six and a half hours of meetings, I realized we’ve got to rethink meetings for Work From Home.

Which leads to this blog post, because again, I had six and a half hours of meetings

We have to acknowledge that meetings are not always the best tool for people to connect. Meetings are good to brainstorm, to sign off on consensus, to train, and for Q&A. Many times we use them just because we can’t get someone, or to ensure everyone talks to everyone, and so on. We use meetings as a patch because we’re not doing better.

This isn’t just draining, as meetings can be, having too many meetings ruins the joy of human contact. That’s bad as it is, but during a Pandemic, when we’re alone, having so many meetings you’re glad to be isolated isn’t healthy.

Now, once we admit that, what can we do? What can we do to communicate and not schedule a ton of meetings? I’m glad I asked for you!

First, we have to ask why we hold the meetings we do and what the goal is. We should ask why we have to do it and then what we really need to happen and why. Then we can move on to better methods – or just not doing things.

Secondly, we need to find ways to make our tools and processes work so we don’t need elaborate meetings. Good project planning tools like Rally, Jira, and Service now can save time. We need automated forms and orders, and so on that we can fill out. Literally, we should minimize unneeded human contact to focus on the needed.

Third, we need to consider ways to leverage existing communications tools like Slack, Zoom, etc. better in ways that don’t necessarily involve meetings. Channels for specific check-ins, open offices, and the like. We need to decide how to use tools better because we’re doing things by habit not a strategy.

Fourth, we need to consider meeting alternatives – the “meeting-like” if you will. This could be some people having Open Offices where anyone can “drop into” the meeting. This could be timed check-ins to determine if a meeting is necessary to save time. Just shoving everyone into a virtual room isn’t the way; we need alternatives.

Fifth, we need to improve our business processes constantly to minimize unneeded meetings and anything else unneeded. Our goal should be to get better, period.

Work From Home is something we need more of; meetings are not something we necessarily to increase. We need to rethink them in the hopefully better world to come out of this mess.

Though I don’t mind holding a few meetings to figure how to get rid of them.

Steven Savage