How to Start No Meeting Days
Updated: Feb 1
In last month's blog, we predicted fewer Zoom happy hours and virtual meetings in 2021. Being bogged down with meetings, whether in person or virtual, has been a problem for some time now, but remote work is illuminating the problem more than ever.
One study by Atlassian found that each person spends up to 31 hours in unproductive meetings each month. That's 31 hours of lost productivity!
Why You Should Consider Implementing a "No Meeting" Day and How to Start
It's estimated that executives spend up to 23 hours per week in meetings, which is up 10 hours in comparison with the 1960's, (this was also before email so you might think it would be the opposite!) Meetings can be poorly run, poorly timed, or both, leaving attendees wondering What did we just accomplish? And Was that meeting even necessary? Besides the obvious hours spent sitting in meetings, there's also the meeting prep time and time spent regrouping and refocusing post-meeting. Holding too many meetings can also lower morale and be mentally draining for your team, leading to decreased productivity.
Meetings Disrupt Those "In the Zone"
Being bogged down by too many meetings can be especially disastrous for those who create. A Fast Company study showed it can take more than 20 minutes to get refocused after being interrupted while intensely working on a task. Those in design, content development, coding, information and data analytics, are some positions that could greatly benefit from uninterrupted work time.
Learn to Prioritize & Meet More Efficiently
Implementing a No Meeting Day will inevitably require your employees to think more about whether or not a meeting is necessary. It should also result in more productive meetings when they occur. The hope is that the other workdays do not become flooded with the same meetings, but that there could be some downsizing and prioritizing.
To have more efficient meetings, have an agenda and set aside an appropriate amount of time. Communicate the goal of the meeting and leave with clearly defined next steps and responsibilities. Not every meeting needs to be a full 30 minutes to an hour (or more!) Also consider if the meeting frequency could be changed. If it's a weekly meeting, could it be bi-weekly? Do all the invitees need to be there or could it be handled by a smaller group? Find additional tips on how to run more efficient meetings here.
Pick Up the Phone More
Sometimes a question is too complicated to try and work out over email, or the topic needs a more personal touch. In those cases, consider if a quick phone call could suffice rather than gathering 5 people in a room for 30 minutes.
Consider No Meeting Mornings (or Afternoons)
Another option is to restrict meetings during certain hours in the morning or afternoon. Many people are most productive in the morning, so when that time is sucked up by meetings, it can be hard to get much done. This type of schedule will also help your team to plan ahead and block out large amounts of time to complete tasks while they know they can dedicate 100% focus. Try out No Meeting Mornings for a week and then test No Meeting Afternoons the next week and get feedback on which your employees prefer.
Be Realistic & Flexible
Some emergencies may arise that warrant a meeting, and that's okay. Communicate that with your team and be prepared to be flexible. Or perhaps there are certain departments that require more collaboration and a no-meeting policy won't work for them at all.
It's also important to note that a No Meeting Day policy usually does not apply to outside meetings with clients, third parties or interviews. Discuss the idea with leadership and consider how your company operates and its culture and design a No Meeting (or Fewer Meeting) plan that works for your organization.
Has your organization tried No Meeting Days? How did it go? What worked? What didn't? Please share below!