Fresh Data Reveals The Way We Meet Now

Where, why, and how we get together to get the job done is changing every day. The cloud-based video conference company Blue Jeans Network crunched numbers from a million office workers to better understand the state of the modern meeting.

Meetings—we love to hate them.

And no wonder. One study found the average office denizen spends over four years of their life sitting in meetings—perhaps another reason we’re called working stiffs.

With that in mind, Fast Company’s offered readers a compendium of ideas and executives on how to prune unnecessary excess of information (or whittle out people with no purpose a la Steve Jobs) avoid the seven deadly sins of a sit down including not actually sitting down—or even take a page from the (all pulled off without a single powwow).

Something, however, is missing among all those tips and tricks. Namely: what does a modern meeting actually look like? Who’s more likely to arrive early, and who chronically shows up late? When are people more likely to gather and are men as equally represented around the conference table as women? In short: we're missing more data.

Knowing the answers to these questions not only makes for more efficient encounters, but may help those who do get together be more engaged with the substance of their huddle.

Today we offer you some answers courtesy of Blue Jeans Network. The cloud-based video conference company pulled together data from more than a million participants who used Blue Jeans Network (to the tune of about 60 million minutes of meetings annually) in 177 countries across all seven continents. The State of the Modern Meeting benchmarks trends in collaboration and demonstrating how technology is reshaping meetings.

Conference Room Not Required
One major finding is that meetings aren’t site specific. Globalization of the workforce and the means that more people are tapping into alternative conferencing to pull their disparate players together. Blue Jeans Network found that Singapore, San Francisco, Prague, Dubai and New York are some of the cities where people most frequently collaborate. Over three quarters of those surveyed (77%) attend from laptops/desktops and from either a landline or video enabled mobile device 30% of the time. Traditional meeting rooms still command 56% of gatherings.

With its own teams spread across the U.S., Europe and India, Blue Jeans Network CEO Krish Ramakrishnan says his company is a "power user" of its own technology and contends that the video meeting is more productive (read: shorter) even though the time difference between India and the States means that some members of the engineering team are taking part in the twice-weekly scrum from home. Ramakrishnan notes the camera forces people start on time (49%) and stop multi-tasking. "Unlike an audio or web conference, people can see when you aren't paying attention," he says, so forget surfing or checking your phone while on video.

How Much, How Long, and Who’s Late?

Ramakrishnan suggests sticking to meeting basics such as enforcing a start time, setting an agenda and staying on track. According to the survey though, Blue Jeans Network found that CEOs, CTOs and company founders are most likely to breeze in after the rest have started. (Ramakrishnan stayed mum on whether he and his top brass are among the tardy.) Though Californians host the most meetings, their Midwestern counterparts are more likely to start on time.

Once assembled, Blue Jeans Network’s meetings average 45 minutes, which is pretty standard fare from their findings. Because most employees take lunch between 12-1 p.m., there’s a 20% decline in the number of meetings happening during the midday meal. Forget work/life balance though, one in ten meetings happen on the weekends.

But contrary to popular belief, Monday isn’t the most popular day to pull people into conferences. A full 61% take place on hump days and Thursdays. Though it’s the shortest month, February gets top honors for most workday meetings.

No Glass Ceiling in the Boardroom
Many women admit they have a harder time speaking up in a sea of dudes, especially when striving for success could be construed as bitchiness. However, Blue Jeans found that women attend 11% more meetings than men and are 14% more likely to join in on weekends, only reinforcing what Sheryl Sandberg once argued, "There's no such thing as work-life balance. There's work, and there's life, and there's no balance."

[Image: Flickr user damn_unique]

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