It was bad enough when we were all in the office (or the machine room). There were too many meetings to go to. But now we have Zoom and Teams and any number of other ways of meeting, it seems the amount of time people spend in meetings is just increasing. Last week, for the first time, I found myself in two important meetings at the same time – one using Zoom and one using Teams. This is total madness!
What types of meeting are you spending so much time in? There are lots of ways of classifying meetings. Let’s divide them into six types:
- Status update meetings – these are the most common, and happen frequently. They are used for project updates, team alignment, and general catch-ups.
- Information sharing meetings – these may involve presentations as information is passed to a team. It allows questions to be asked by staff. It may involve a training session.
- Decision making meetings – this is where goals can be set and solutions to problems can be worked out and evaluated. Information needs to be shared, strategies can be discussed, and actions can be decided on.
- Problem solving meetings – these need to be solution focused and deal with internal or external challenges.
- Innovation meetings – these allow new ideas to be suggested and the meetings help drive innovation. They may involve brainstorming sessions.
- Team building meetings – in pre-Covid days, these may have involved away days and team building exercises.
Working from home or working from anywhere was meant to make people more productive because they didn’t need to commute, and they were less likely to be disturbed by work colleagues stopping by their desk for a chat. However, statistics show that in 2020 the number of meetings attended by a worker on average rose by 13.5 percent. Frighteningly, 11 million meetings are held each day, which works out at 55 million meetings per week or 220 million meetings per year! Currently, 15 percent of an organization’s time is spent in meetings, and that figure has increased every year since 2008. Apparently, employees spend 4 hours per week, preparing for status update meetings. And the consequence is that 67 percent of employees complain that spending too much time in meetings hinders them from being productive at work.
It gets worse, most employees attend 62 meetings per month, and feel that half of those meetings were a complete waste of time. And 92 percent of employees say they multitask during meetings – which may help them be more productive, but also may contribute to the failure of the meeting.
Managers and professionals lose 30 percent of their time in meetings that they could have invested in other productive tasks. Ineffective meetings make professionals lose 31 hours every month, or 4 working days. 95 percent of meeting attendees say they lose focus and miss parts of the meeting, while 39 percent confess to dozing off during meetings!
A survey of 6,500 people from the USA, UK, and Germany found that among the 19 million meetings that were observed, the ineffective meetings cost up to $399 billion in the USA and $58 billion in the UK.
These statistics are from the Atlassian, Attentiv, Cleverism, Condeco, Doodle, Harvard Business Review, HR Digest, KornFerry, National Bureau of Economic Research, ReadyTalk. The Muse, and Timely.
There I was, monitoring a Zoom meeting and a Teams meeting, and the question that came to mind was could I have done it for two Teams meetings or two Zoom meetings? The answer for Teams would be to join one Teams meeting using the Teams Desktop Application and join the second meeting using the Microsoft Teams Web Application.
With Zoom you can also join multiple meetings at the same time using the Zoom desktop client. You can’t, however, host multiple meetings. You do need to have a Business, Enterprise, or Education Zoom account. And you have to contact Zoom Support to have this feature enabled, which could take a few days. And, once the setting is enabled, you can join multiple meetings by using the join URL or going to https://zoom.us/join and typing in the meeting ID. The Join button in the Zoom client only works for the first meeting you want to join.
If you really want to do this, here are the instructions…
- Sign in to the Zoom web portal.
- In the navigation panel, click Settings.
- Click the Meeting tab.
- Under the In Meeting (Basic) section, verify that Join different meetings simultaneously on desktop is enabled.
- If the setting is disabled, click the Status toggle to enable it. If a verification dialog displays, choose Turn On to verify the change.
On the day that you want to join multiple meetings, you can join the first meeting by:
- Clicking the Join button in the Zoom desktop client;
- Clicking the join URL; or
- Navigating to https://zoom.us/join and enter the meeting ID.
For meetings two and three (or more), you have to use the join URL in your browser or manually enter the meeting/webinar ID on https://zoom.us/join, and the Zoom client will automatically launch the additional meeting.
And there you are, unproductive in two or three meetings at the same time!
One reason that so many meetings go on for so long is that everyone is comfortable. They have a tea or a coffee. They may have some biscuits or a doughnut to nibble on. And they are sitting in a comfortable chair. There’s no need for them to rush. And that’s why meetings held with people standing up can be so much quicker and can focus people’s attention. Scrums, as people using the agile framework call them. Although they were originally used for developing software, they are now used by many organizations. A small group of people stand in a room – or on a Zoom call – for a limited period of time. This is often 10 or 15 minutes. What’s been achieved can be reviewed, and what needs to be done can be focused on. And these brief meeting are held frequently, often at the start of the day. And this seems to work well.
I’m inclined to not call a meeting if there isn’t a real purpose for having. You know, it’s always scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month kind of meeting. I think it’s important for the chair to keep the meeting focused. The worse kind of meeting is the one where the chair has to talk at length about everything! And I like the idea of standing up at meetings to encourage everyone to be brief and concise, and focused. And I really don’t want to be in two (or more) meetings at the same time again – even if I know how to do it!