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Right now is the perfect time to test out a no meetings policy. Here’s how to do it

A CHRO says managers across the board are well aware of the time wasted in meetings every day. With the holidays approaching, enacting a no meetings policy will not only be a gift to employees, but to the company’s future as well.

Right now is the perfect time to test out a no meetings policy. Here’s how to do it
[Source photos: fauxels/Pexels; Pixabay/Pexels]

It’s almost that time of the year. You and your team can’t wait for the holidays to descend, yet there’s still plenty of work to be done. Especially in global organizations with dispersed teams, everyone’s schedules are different, particularly at the end of the year when many people are taking time off. Some team members like to take a big chunk of time off to truly unplug, while others splurged early in the year and only have a day or two left when November and December come around. But this doesn’t mean everything has to come grinding to a halt. In fact, the increase in erratic holiday schedules is actually an opportunity to try something that could boost your company’s efficiency in the long term: stop having meetings altogether.

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Why eliminating meetings makes sense

Let’s first examine why this might be a good idea in general. Go ahead and conduct an informal poll of your colleagues and your friends, and it will reveal that many of them complain about wasting time in meetings. The stats don’t lie: Executives spend an average of 23 hours per week in scheduled meetings, and 71% of managers feel that meetings are inefficient.

If you think about it objectively, the more people that are in a meeting, the less efficient it really is. First comes the reality that a convenient time for a meeting for one person may be inconvenient for another. More importantly, though, is a meeting truly the best way to convey information and make decisions? The answer is simply: no.  Attendees may have their minds elsewhere as the meeting is going on, and they may only be half-listening, waiting for the information that they deem relevant to them. And what about when you miss the meeting? Who will fill you in on all the important details, especially during the holidays when so many people are out of the office? If someone is available to catch you up, will that take as long as the original meeting itself?

New ways to communicate

If you can see the inefficiencies to the old-fashioned meeting process you may be wondering how to effectively convey important information without meetings. That’s the perfect question to ask, but it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. It involves adjusting your processes and getting used to new standards and tools.

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Some companies with no meetings policies rely almost exclusively on asynchronous communication, which means that all company communications are written down in one way or another. This system allows employees to make requests to teammates without hopping on a Zoom where everyone needs to be “present” at the same moment. If the outline and deadline of a project are clearly articulated, they can easily be shared amongst additional contributors and to the wider company. Transparency is key to a no meetings policy as the entire team needs to be able to access relevant information on their own schedule.

Tools needed for success

With the holidays approaching, scheduling meetings with all the pertinent players at the same time becomes even more challenging than usual. This is a great excuse to start testing out project management software that can help you go asynchronous. When teammates return from time off they can get themselves up to speed by reviewing the project and task details. This vital tool, in addition to a messaging app and a collaboration application, are all that’s really needed to effectively communicate asynchronously.

Best practices for implementation

Implementation of a no meetings policy shouldn’t be sudden. Consider rewarding teams who are able to cut down on meetings in the first month or two after the goal is announced. Next, analyze the feedback, and unless there are serious issues, move forward with mandatory implementation after the adjustment period. This will give managers and their teams time to adapt their workflow to boost efficiencies throughout the company.

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Neutralize the FOMO effect

At a typical company, employees miss between five to seven meetings per vacation week. Historically, for many of my team members, the more meetings the company had, the more they worried about what they missed. Even when colleagues are diligent about sharing detailed notes, it’s challenging to truly get the substance from another person’s recollections.

Coming back to a stack of meeting memos doesn’t exactly boost your spirits, especially knowing they may not even be effective. It’s much easier to catch up on the process after a vacation using a project management system as all updates are clear and concise. That means they can easily get the point and re-engage their work routine. This not only impacts the productivity of the team member returning from vacation but also their colleagues who don’t have to engage in a drawn-out process. Without meetings, there’s no reason for FOMO.

Being a global digital studio, what works for TheSoul Publishing may not be completely analogous to every business. However, companies that are primarily remote (we’ve been 80% remote since 2016) will most likely see immediate benefits to implementing the policy. We’ve seen a significant boost in efficiency and overall productivity. We’ve also grown substantially during this time, and this growth has been seamless as a direct result of not needing meetings to make big decisions. And while new hires are often a little bemused by the policy at first, they soon see the benefits of having more control of their own time. Nearly everyone appreciates the policy once they adjust.

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Managers across the board are well aware of the time wasted in meetings every day. With the holidays approaching, enacting a no meetings policy will not only be a gift to your employees, but to your company’s future as well.


Aleksandra Sulimko is the CHRO of TheSoul Publishing.


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