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Death by meetings? Some interesting trends

As you go to yet another meeting, you might perhaps be wondering why. It may help you to know that you are not alone. The findings from a recent survey by LogMeIn, Inc. and Ovum suggests that not only has the number of meetings being called increased, the indication is that the meetings are perceived by participants as providing little or no value.

Some of the findings include:

More than 50% of workers reported an increase in the sheer number of meetings they are expected to attend; 2/3 of these workers indicate that at least 1/2 of their meetings are not of value; and worse, chronic late start times of these meetings are having a very real impact on worker productivity, most notably with executives, who, on average, are losing 3 hours a week – 5 1/2 days per year – in meeting delays alone. (Source)
Virtual meetings are now becoming the norm with 24 % of all meetings being virtual, a trend that skews higher for younger workers (age 26-35) who report that 36% of all of their meetings are held virtually. (Source)

You can get a full copy of the Ovum report, Collaboration 2.0: Death of the Web Conference (As We Know It) here, or get some quick highlights from the infographic below.

Image: Collaboration 2.0. Death of the web conference (as we know it). Source:LogMeIn, contact from: 

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Comment by Hazel Owen on October 30, 2014 at 20:19

Good point, Rob. Hmmmm - see what you mean about everyone having a role to play, as well as the notions of cybercitizenship and ethics.

Today I was in a day-long meeting with three other colleagues (so a small group), We all work in virtual spaces, and much of the collaboration during the meeting was captured in shared Google Docs. However, at times, I was aware - even with a pretty structured agenda and set of outcomes we were heading for - of people being distracted by emails, Skype and their mobile phones (all work related). It was a bit frustrating on a couple of occasions repeating something when someone had zoned out. 

However, on reflection I suspect that it is pretty unrealistic (and unfair?) to ask people to remain focussed for an entire day (we broke for lunch, but otherwise worked through). Also, we have never really chatted about protocols in meetings...and maybe this is something that would be quite positive - not necessarily to identify guidelines, but certainly to encourage some thinking about our own ethics, to nut out some shared understandings around cybersafety, and spend time considering how to get the most out of meetings.

Maybe one option is, for a long meeting, is to have shorter segments, with micro-breaks for folks to think, discuss, and, if necessary, take calls / check emails. Perhaps this would provide the mental space for more meaningful interactions?

However, the issue of folks coming to a meeting without having done the prep...that is another consideration. Need to think more on that one!

Comment by Rob Clarke on October 29, 2014 at 16:57

I also wonder whether it's about peoples' ethics and/or cybercitizenship... ie. if you are at a meeting and on your device (whether it's a productive meeting or not) then that also says something about the participant. I think everyone at a meeting has a role to play; how they play it is another story though!

Interesting dialogue Hazel, enjoying it ;-)

Comment by Hazel Owen on October 28, 2014 at 21:01

Hi Rob...and thanks for the comment :)

A couple of years back I was working with someone who said that one way to look at meetings was to frame them up as 'the work' rather than in addition to 'the work'. However, the more I've reflected on that suggestion, the more I have felt that only to be true if something is actually accomplished in a meeting. I feel that, to know if you have accomplished something there has to be some sort of measure (such as an many meetings seem to be called without a clear agenda!!). Also, often, folks arrive at a meeting unprepared (i.e. they haven't done the reading / contributed to the online discussion etc), which means valuable time bringing everyone up to speed.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but, as you say, the behaviours tend to say it all. After all, why wouldn't you have your laptop / device there to do your work, if the meeting you're attending has no clear purpose, no sense of outcomes, and some of the meeting is spent bringing folks up to speed around something you've already contributed to?

I wonder if, a bit like some aspects of the way we learn and collaborate are being re-visited, it is the turn of the meeting? Not just say, standing up at meetings, but something way more fundamental that gets to the root of why, how and when we meet....

Comment by Rob Clarke on October 28, 2014 at 20:28

Fascinating I see this in many peoples' meeting behaviours also...

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