This blog is part one of our four-part Building Better Meetings blog series. We’ll be sharing tips and tricks on how businesses and organizations can optimize meetings in the hybrid work era. 

For better or worse, the state of meetings has changed drastically over the past two years. Long gone are the days of stuffy boardrooms with lacquered tables and paper flip charts. Today, we’re rapidly evolving beyond the fully remote world, where everyone was dialing in from their home office.  

Up to half (40 to 50 percent) of the workforce plans to work from home at least part time, according to new research by Frost & Sullivan, so yet another evolution of meetings is on the horizon.  

The new face of meetings is hybrid. 

When you’re running a meeting in which some people are in the office and some are dialing in remotely, it becomes a challenge to make sure everyone is heard. In short, it calls for a new type of meeting culture.  

One of the best ways to develop a new approach is to reflect back on the types of meetings we’ve all experienced (but hope to never see again). From nonfunctioning audio to sleeping colleagues, here are four types of meetings to avoid in 2022 – and tips to make your meetings more effective in a hybrid world.  

1. The “Can Everyone See My Screen?” Meeting 

The problem: Broken video and muted microphones may have been par for the course at the beginning of remote work, but with video usage 350 percent higher than pre-pandemic days according to Frost & Sullivan, meeting-goers expect more. Nobody wants to wait half an hour for their host to figure out how to share their screen. A speaker who can’t load their own presentation will lose their audience, failed breakout rooms are missed opportunities for participation and everyone will leave feeling like their time has been wasted. 

This can be especially problematic when it comes to hybrid meetings, where attendees are tuning in from the office and from home. It’s important to make everyone feel equally involved in the company culture no matter where they are or what device they use to tune in. 

The fix: There are a few steps you can take to resolve this technologically problematic type of meeting. The first is making sure you’re using collaboration applications that effortlessly support the functions you need. Other improvements like adaptive lighting, sound bars for better audio and adjusted camera angles help make it feel like everyone is in the room together. It’s also important to ensure everyone involved can use these tools effectively. Spending a little bit of time training your team means less precious time is wasted during the actual meeting. 

2. The “This Could Have Been an Email” Meeting 

The problem: Everyone’s been there. The entire team has gathered together to discuss the latest project, only to spend an excruciating hour going over a single document, line-by-line. Or the “update meeting” just to learn that there haven’t been any changes since the last time you met. Meetings like this eat into time that attendees could be using for productive tasks and cause frustration. If your meeting doesn’t require in-depth discussion and distracts people from their day, it probably could have been an email.  

The fix: This might seem obvious, but sometimes emails really are better than meetings! Emails allow participants to respond at their own pace, provide complete records of the communication and give updates in real time. Of course, nuance can sometimes be lost over text or ideas need to be explained. In cases like these, having the right technology makes it easy to transition to a quick call, but only for long enough to clarify the point. Just be sure to follow up with an email to keep everyone on the same page. 

3. The “What Are We Talking About Again?” Meeting 

The problem: Absent agendas, rambling tangents and discussions that are more like digressions - these are all signs that a meeting has gone off the rails. If you can’t remember why you’re in a meeting in the first place, it’s hard to feel like it’s worth your time. Meetings by design take employees away from their individual tasks, and without a focused plan and a dedicated leader to guide the discussion, the overall quality of work and satisfaction can suffer. 

Every minute spent in a meaningless meeting takes precious time away from employees’ abilities to do their jobs and live their lives. At a time when employees have come to expect a better work-life balance, unnecessary meetings that veer off course must be avoided.  

The fix: Every meeting needs a leader to help keep the discussion on task. Unified communications technology makes it possible for a team leader to create and share an agenda ahead of time, along with any files needed for the discussion. Action items can be assigned and tracked in a collaborative workspace, so everyone is on the same page, during and after the meeting.   

4. The “Gang’s All Here” Meeting 

The problem: The “Brady Bunch” comparison may be tired by now, but it can still feel overwhelming to log on to a call and find a sea of tiny faces staring back at you. That is, if they’re paying attention to their screens at all. When too many people are required to attend a meeting that they have little practical involvement with, engagement rates plummet. Less than 50 percent of meeting time is effective and engaging, according to Dr. Steven Rogelberg of UNC-Charlotte. The rate of engagement is even lower for remote participants, meaning that most meetings aren’t just boring, they’re ineffective. 

The fix: When it comes to a productive meeting, it’s best to extend the invitation just to those who have an active role in the project. The best meetings have at maximum five or six participants, but the smaller the better. This allows everyone on the call to feel included in the discussion, leading to more innovative, productive dialogues. Make sure the collaboration tech for your meeting allows for each participant to easily communicate so that everyone’s voice can be heard. 

What’s your plan for keeping productivity high in a hybrid work environment? Learn how to ensure effective employee collaboration this year. > 

Better Meetings in 2022 

These are just four types of meetings we’d all like to put behind us this year, but there are so many ways to make meetings better. With hybrid work on the rise, it’s time to adjust our approach. Companies need to embrace new ideas and technology to create an inclusive meeting culture that makes collaboration easy for everyone attending – whether they’re in the office, at home or anywhere in between. You may even find your employees finally looking forward to that next calendar invite.   

Follow along in this four-part blog series to learn how to host productive, engaging meetings and find out how Mitel can make boring communication a thing of the past.  

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