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Workplace Meetings in a Time of Covid

With many businesses continuing to have staff work from home, the workplace meeting is somewhat a thing of the past in that they generally don’t take place at work. Meetings are still held and are still an essential business process, they have just evolved, and now most of them are held in the Cloud.

Why meetings are still important

There are a number of types of meetings in the workplace, and these can get a bad rep for time-wasting and are often blamed for reductions in productivity. We’ve all been there, from meetings for management to share information with employees, smaller team meetings, 1-2-1 meetings, or meetings between employee teams. Regardless of the type of meeting, they are important for the day-to-day running of most businesses.

These are times for employees to share ideas, gain direction from management, have their questions answered, and deal with many business-related issues. Meetings also provide an opportunity to build and create a team environment within the organisation. With remote working, these meetings must be used effectively, improve efficiency, and be held with the same frequency.

Effective meetings have become key to the success of many a business out there and can be used to increase productivity, keep processes and systems aligned and produce professional work. Research shows that the average worker spends 213 hours a year in meetings – the equivalent of 26 working days. And this increases as your seniority levels increase, with senior managers spending the most time in meetings in most businesses.

Covid and office meetings

In the average working week, nearly one million of us spend 50% of our time in meetings. The amount of time we spend in meetings has not changed during the COVID context, just where we have those meetings. The online meeting has become ubiquitous with the COVID pandemic, and the way we work has changed forever. In December 2019, millions of daily meetings were taking place online, and this had increased 30% by April 2020 as the working from home culture grew.

As working safely from home has become the priority, we’ve had to adapt the office environment to a purely digital and online environment. Often this means that casual conversations we may have had with colleagues in the office are now being scheduled as online meetings to ensure continued communication and cohesion amongst staff. Fortunately, technology has allowed us to adapt to the new online environment and continue with business-wide meetings and quick 1-2-1 catch-ups with colleagues.

Remote workers and the tech they need to meet

Being equipped for online meetings means more than just a laptop connected to the internet. Your business and staff will need some essential bit of kit to keep the meetings flowing smoothly and interruption-free. The first step is the right software that suits your business and can accommodate different kinds of meetings. A great example of software is Microsoft Teams; it’s a chat-based workspace in Office 365. There is a central hub within which co-workers can create, co-edit and find content and meet team members. It is also software that can be downloaded to mobile allowing teams to meet whenever their members may be. Software such as this will be essential for remote workers to remain productive.

Using software as a service and accessing such software through the Cloud makes remote work possible and can keep meetings with and amongst staff interactive and immediate. Although one can no longer simply just pop into a colleague’s office to ask a question, it is possible to have ongoing chats and ways to create an office environment online.

A reliable and secure internet connection is important to keep your staff connected and ensure the privacy and security of your staff online. The security of the network you use to discuss your business strategy and worker responsibilities needs to be secure. As such, the Cloud provider that you use and the associated software must be genuine, tried, and tested. Don’t use newcomers to the field with no experience or pedigree in relation to the tech services that you need to keep in touch with your remote workforce.

Keep in touch with your remote workers, keep your finger on the pulse of your business and use the strategies outlined herein to improve your office communication and, in so doing, improve office productivity. Meetings are still as important as they’ve ever been in the business world; what has changed is where they will happen, what you will need for them to happen seamlessly, and the etiquette around them.