When to actually have a meeting

Wondering how to effectively connect with your team remotely? Entering the new world of remote work enables you to reassess the productivity of meetings. Ask yourself the following questions: Do we have time? Am I ready? Is there another way?

Nowadays, lots more people are working remotely, or have a hybrid set-up where they split their time between the office and their home. For some, it's been a welcome change, providing extra flexibility – and avoiding long commutes. But you might be missing some of the office perks, like spending time with colleagues in person, or just grabbing lunch together.

Naturally, you'll need to have some meetings to stay connected in a fully-distributed or hybrid team. Aside from our natural human need to socialize and the health benefits we derive from interacting with others, we’re conditioned to gather when we need to make important business decisions.

But meetings can often build up until there's no space left in your calendar to get work done. So every once in a while, it's a good idea to step back and ask yourself these three questions before booking time in your team’s calendar.

  1. Do we have time?
    Consider this before you carve out time in your team’s already-busy schedule: the average middle manager spends about 35% of their time in meetings. And remote workers believe meetings reduce their productivity 1.8x more than on-site workers.

    Here’s another way to think about this: what would my team be spending their time on if they didn’t have to be in this meeting? The answer to this question may be enough to convince you to hold off on booking them.

  2. Am I ready?
    We don’t work in a vacuum, which leads us to seek out the opinions and perspectives of our teammates. However, sometimes this interdependence leads us to bring ‘all hands on deck’ before there’s a real need for their contributions.

    One important clue: if the purpose of a potential meeting isn’t super clear to you, chances are good you haven’t thought through the situation as well as you could. If this is the case, try taking a step back and making time for strategic thinking. A simple high-level review of your project may reveal you’ve got some planning to do before getting your teammates involved in the process.

  3. Is there another way?
    It’s no secret that meetings aren’t always necessary. Decisions don’t always need to be made in real-time, and are in some cases better achieved asynchronously. There’s power in developing comfort with delayed gratification.

    Try thinking about a few of the questions you planned to ask your team members, and how they’d respond if asked these questions during a meeting. Now imagine how their responses might differ if they had a few hours or even a day to think through the possibilities.

Meetings can be powerful tools for real-time collaboration and decision-making. That’s why we often gravitate toward them as the first step of a new initiative, or to mark key milestones in a project’s lifecycle.

After considering the three questions above, you may well decide that, yes, it’s time to send out an invite to your team. But you’ll be better prepared to hold a meeting that is productive — and rewarding — for all involved.

Other articles you might like