Managing Meetings Thoughtfully & Improving Workflow for Your Team

In the context of what causes "good enough" work instead of quality work, it often happens when there is a rush due to an overload of tasks or numerous interruptions. One of the main culprits is meetings, which, while providing opportunities for connection and collaboration, can also result in exhaustion, burnout, and disengagement. In 2021, I aimed to address the negative impact of our current meeting structure on productivity and morale, drawing inspiration from various sources and devising a strategic approach to reducing meetings.

Working at a remote agency, MKG, much of our interactions with clients and teammates took place through meetings, which increased in size and frequency as the agency grew. The global pandemic further exacerbated the situation as in-person social interactions diminished and work became a primary source of connection. While there were benefits to coming together as a team, days started feeling draining and task-focused rather than strategic and fulfilling.

Meetings should have a purpose and not be the default option. In an inclusive company culture, it is common to involve everyone working on a project in meetings to ensure equal footing and avoid miscommunication. However, relying solely on this approach overlooks the asynchronous tools available for collaboration and information sharing, such as Asana, Zoom chat, Loom, and Google Docs. Recording calls and making them available for faster playback can also help optimize time usage.

Non-meeting time is crucial and must be protected. Many companies have adopted a "no-meeting day," but it can be challenging to maintain. A "no-meeting" day provides space for larger projects, uninterrupted work time for better focus, and limited meeting availability, which forces prioritization and encourages problem-solving. At MKG, we adjusted our schedule so that recurring client calls and internal meetings were concentrated on Mondays and Fridays, while Tuesdays through Thursdays offered more free time, with one of these days designated as a "no-meeting" day.

Meetings are costly in terms of time and energy, and they can disrupt deep thinking and negatively impact work quality and output. When considering the cost of meetings, remember to account for not just the meeting itself but also the preparation and follow-up tasks they often entail.

Striking the right balance between meetings and work time is essential for maintaining the value that meetings can bring without sacrificing productivity. To create a list of "essential recurring meetings," I considered their contributions to financial success, workflow, and company values/culture. We then moved internal meetings to Mondays and Fridays, deleted any unnecessary recurring meetings, and evaluated the frequency of essential meetings.

Having the right tools for asynchronous work and structure for impactful meetings is also important. Tools such as Asana, Zoom Chat or Slack, Google Workspace, and Loom can support collaboration, reviews, and approvals without needing meetings. When meetings are necessary, ensure they are structured for success by communicating roles and expectations clearly, showing that you value each other's time and contributions.

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