Business meetings should last no more than fifteen minutes

Business meetings should last no more than fifteen minutes

In April, the work management platform Sasana decided to conduct an internal experiment. The company asked its employees to rate meeting time, and then cancel all recurring meetings with five or fewer attendees. Company workers had an empty calendar for forty-eight hours, before re-entering the meetings they considered valuable.

"Employees changed the length of meetings by assigning shorter and unconventional durations. thirty minutes was reduced to fifteen, and the frequency was decreased - explains Rebecca Hinds, productivity expert at Asana - The final part of the process was needed [for the employees, ed] to calculate how much time they spent in meetings after the review. ". On average, company staff saved eleven hours a month, which equates to seventeen days over the span of a year, or three and a half weeks, adds Hinds.

According to Asana's survey of over 10,000 employees, forty per cent of workers spend more time engaged in video calls than last year, and 52 per cent more frequently engage in other activities during meetings. Nearly half of the workforce in Great Britain and Australia and more than a third of Americans finish the work day mentally and physically exhausted.

The fifteen minute format Digital fatigue - fatigue due to a excessive use of the screen - is on the rise. In April 2021, more than half (52 percent) of workers in the United States reported feeling exhausted, and more than two-thirds (67 percent) felt the situation had worsened during the pandemic, according to a study. by Indeed, a job search engine. Those who work remotely are more inclined to argue that burnout has worsened (38 per cent).

WiredLeaks, how to send us an anonymous report Attempts to combat digital fatigue have made the decision to reduce meeting times to fifteen minutes very popular with managers. In July 2021, the Berlin-based B2b financial automation platform Monite introduced its management meeting, team alignment and problem-solving approach. With each meeting invitation, the role of moderator or leader is established, which rotates regularly, as well as an agenda to plan the flow of the discussion. about four or five meetings in this format to get used to. However, Ivan Maryasin, administrator and co-founder of Monite, has already noticed the benefits of the new approach: "During meetings on Zoom, you no longer get distracted, which was an obvious problem in longer sessions - he says -. Before, you set a meeting of an hour, which extended to eighty minutes, and after twenty minutes the high-level employees had already stopped following and moved on to other tasks ".

During the pandemic, the employees of the British company of Distributed software development began working completely remotely, and fifteen-minute meetings were soon introduced. "When you do the math and realize that a one-hour meeting with eight people equates to a full day's work, with all the hefty costs associated with it, shorter and more focused meetings become a must, especially in the context of hybrid and remote workforces, "says co-founder of Distributed Callum Adamson.

Even though companies have just started adopting quarter-hour meetings, organizational psychologist Steven Rogelberg points out that the concept of shorter and more calibrated meetings is actually dated. According to Rogelberg, the renewed obsession with quick meetings stems from the absence of informal interactions, an aspect that is driving executives to adapt the way they manage a workforce remotely. .

Physical and psychological repercussions Fifteen-minute meetings cannot solve the problem of over-scheduling on their own. With the rhythm punctuated by Google meetings, which have a default duration of one hour, and by automated applications such as Calendly and Doodle, company employees find themselves in front of days, and often entire weeks, clogged with video calls. Microsoft's Human Factors Lab found that when workers are engaged in meetings that follow one after the other, stress levels in the brain soar, an aspect that confirms the psychological impact associated with the continuous transition from one to another. activity to the other. Unless you are the person who organizes the meetings, calendars can easily become unmanageable.

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Arrow Regardless of their profession, people need to have substantial blocks of time to engage deeply in a job and perform their duties properly . Commitments at regular intervals disrupt that flow and can negatively impact productivity and well-being. Some of Rogelberg's research has found that employees who have blocks of meetings and others without predefined commitments report a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of the day. The ideal cadence includes two consecutive meetings interspersed with breaks of five to ten minutes, and at least two or three hours uninterrupted free.

"The anxiety about meetings is linked to the idea that you are giving up control of the own time to someone else, and being confronted with a day constantly fragmented by meetings amplifies that feeling, "explains Rogelberg. Not to mention that a long gap between extended sessions is useless from a productivity standpoint. Research conducted by Ohio State University in 2015 shows that people perceive the hour leading up to a meeting as shorter, resulting in a drop in concentration level.

Virtuous Examples and Strategies In 2020 Namrata Sandhu founded Vaayu, a climate tech startup whose employees work completely remotely, setting fifteen-minute meetings as standard: "I've worked in the company for most of my career, and the reason people have adopted this mindset. scheduling is that the calendars are packed, and you have to plan two or three weeks in advance to find room for everyone, "he says. To mitigate the problem, Vaayu employees are encouraged not to plan too far in advance and have adopted an approach that allows for more spontaneous collaboration.

The secret to breaking free from the meeting binge is assessing on a case-by-case basis whether they are required before planning and starting them. Rogelberg suggests that a different structure of the agenda can also be useful: "Agenda items for meetings should be questions to be answered, not arguments - explains Rogelberg -. If you can't think of any questions, that point is probably not necessary, and by thinking about questions you are also determining who needs to be present. "

There are several strategies companies can experiment with to introduce fifteen-minute meetings. The Healthtech Thriva application organizes short video updates when teams work asynchronously and encourages meetings "on the go", to get out in the fresh air even when working in person; the Alphagreen Group ecommerce platform pushes employees to turn off video to reduce Zoom fatigue, while the non-profit search engine Ecosia does not allow holding meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

While some companies they take steps towards a better culture of meetings, others have gone further, abolishing them altogether. Victor Potrel, vice president of partnerships at TheSoul Publishing has not attended a meeting or sent an email for over three years. The digital media company has more than 2,500 employees working remotely across seventy countries, and in 2019 it decided to use only project management, digital publishing, instant messaging and video tools to communicate asynchronously. . "People find it liberating to be able to focus on what they're good at," says Potrel. "Emails and meetings are outdated ways of working, so when we talk about interviewing we don't use either, candidates respond. with great enthusiasm. They tell us it's the dream job. "

This article originally appeared on UK.

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