Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Please Rethink Meetings

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

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

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: We need To Rethink Our Weeks And Days

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Based on my experiences in Work From Home (WFH) during the Pandemic, I’m going through my findings about work from home. Let me get more radical – WFH in many ways proves we need to rethink the idea of the workweek and work days.

In fact, we don’t need to do it just for WFH, but I digress. Maybe I’ll digress more digressively at another time.

Anyway, the Pandemic has massively disrupted work schedules. We’re trying to deal with fear, the kids being home, schedule changes, etc. We’re somehow surviving during all of this and stuff keeps running. This leads to other questions.

Is the 40 hour workweek (and inevitable overtime) a good idea? Is there any basis in reality? Do we need that? Do we accomplish as much? Is it healthy for society? For that matter, do the days we have in the weekday really work well for us?

Is the eight hour day ideal? Ever had days where you did four hours of work and found yourself exhausted – or have a day where you could go for twelve and be just cruising? The problem with an eight hour day is for many, the value of each hour isn’t the same, and it’s not the same day to day.

We’re working in an industrial/factory work situation with no connection to reality or what we need. At best this is habit, at worst this is a situation that makes us vulnerable to having time extorted. Having to upend our usual work days and work weeks, is a good time to question just what our ideal work schedules should be.

It sounds idelaistic, but we should ask just how long people should stay on the job, how to optimize jobs, and what is good for society. Let’s ask what needs to be done, how to get it done, and how to make sure people have time.

Honestly, I think we need to consider work as:

  • First of all, we’ve just learned how we have to rethink life and work. We need to focus a hell of a lot more on life.
  • People when possible should have at least two days off, maybe more. We need that. Organizations could focus on days people should be available, or groups can find the best times.
  • We should reconsider the eight hour work day and, when possible, allow people to find the ideal day and time for them. Of course some places require certain times – so let’s work on that. Maybe there’s not workdays, but only “days we must be here” or “selection of days we must be here.”
  • And, again, to those that must be on shift, in public, in phyiscal space, they deserve proper reimbursement and support.

Yeah, I know to do this will require people to be active. We’d need to push for it. But it’ll be worth it.

Besides, we’ve just learned our ways of thinking don’t work. They never really did.

Steven Savage

Physical Space, New Perspective

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As of this blog posting, I’ve been working from home nearly five months. This has required many adjustments, from a different schedule to trying not to eat everything that has any form of chocolate in it. But as I’m likely here for quite awhile longer, with my girlfriend, and that there will likely be more changes, I worked a way to rearrange the house.

This was really instructive. I hadn’t thought about the space I live until I had to work there. Then I realized I could set up this space better not just for the work, but for my projects like writing and programming.

Honestly, it’s something we should think about more. I mean how many of us move into a place, mostly unpack, shove the remaining boxes under the desk, and don’t think about it? I imagine a lot of us – you know that painting you haven’t hung or that chair you really should replace.

But now I’m seeing the many reasons to improve my working and creating space. So I wanted to share a few.

We need space that gives us room. A classic piece of advice is if at all possible, don’t work in your bedroom as it can mess with your sleep. You may also live with someone and need space away from them to work. Set up your work areas to give you the mental and physical distance you need.

We need the right space to work. That may mean you have one space for your job and one for writing, or one for art and one for writing, etc. We also need the right equipment and setting or we’re just wasting our efforts.

We may need to make that space adaptable. If we can’t have, say, an art room and a programming room, we need a way to alter that space efficiently. We may also get a new computer, buy new reference books or other things we need available – and we need our workspace to reflect that.

We need to make that space something we can reconfigure efficiently. Your needs are going to change, you’re going to get a new roommate, etc. Getting furniture you an break down and move or a desk you can raise and lower will save time and stress.

We need to back up important work supplies. This is something I realized recently during the Pandemic – we should have important work supplies available so we don’t need to dash out for them. This could be an extra computer power cable, or a backup pen, extra printer paper, etc.

We need to engage those that live with us – or visit. Don’t assume your roommate, SO, or guests (when we finally have them) appreciates your needs or your layout. Ask them, get advice, think things over. You don’t want to get a lot of great furniture then find it doesn’t work for others.

So those are my thoughts about physical space and working. Maybe I’ll let you know how my plans go, because I’ve got a few things to purchase, even more to move, and a lot to do . . .

Steven Savage