The questions you should be asking about meetings post lockdown

Jun 03, 2020

A client said to me recently that lockdown had made her feel much more part of the senior team.  That sound like a very odd statement but there’s a lesson in what she said.  It’s a lesson that needs to be taken forward as we come out of the next iteration of the crisis.

Because of the way her company is organised she lives and works several hundred miles away from her London centric colleagues.  Joining meetings has meant either travel to London or sitting on the end of a phone or a video call.  As she was generally the only one in this situation she always felt at a disadvantage.  Even when the meeting chair remembered that she was there it was a struggle to make a point, and often difficult to hear over the background noise in the room.  We’ve all had that experience and it’s hard – even harder if you are on a different continent many time zones away.

 

Lockdown has changed all that.  Suddenly we are all equal, Zoom has become the great leveller.  We are all faces on the screen.  If someone is dominating the call that is obvious to everyone. Someone who doesn’t contribute is equally obvious.

I continuously hear that meetings are shorter, that decisions are faster, that there is more focus on the “good enough” versus the perfect.  Those process changes that would have taken months or years are being done in days or weeks.

 

As we move forward it would be a tragedy if we were not to take the things that we have learnt and apply them to life after lockdown to make it better for people and for business. 

 

What are the questions we should be asking about how we meet?   These are my takeaway questions– you will have others.  They all need to be thought through.

 

  1. How often do people/teams/total workforces really need to be physically together? What are the circumstances when having everyone in the same room makes for better communication?  When do the benefits outweigh the personal and financial costs?
  2. Where meetings are a mix of remote and in the room how do you mitigate the bad effects of people feeling left out? One suggestion I have heard is that you should have everyone on a screen, even if they are in an office.  Are there other ways of achieving this?
  3. If everyone continues to be remote, then what can you do to give people something of the social interaction they get in the office? Do virtual coffees work?

 

What have you learnt from the lockdown meeting that you would like to take forward?

 

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