The productivity of virtual meetings is in question, and for good reason. Pre-Covid, if your coworker Tim was not in the office on Monday for your team meeting, he missed it. It was as simple as that. Now, whether you’re working in an office, hybrid, or remote, all your meetings are likely virtual, and you are expected to take part. Aside from team meetings, studies have shown that employees now spend over 300% more time in one-on-one meetings, as well. Previously, if you had a quick question, you would pop into Sam’s office across the hall and you were in and out with your answer. Now, you call Sam via Teams, ask your question, maybe chat about the upcoming Zoom meeting, maybe ask if he saw the big game last night, and before you know it, you’re ending a 10-minute call that left you with a new question for Lauren and now you’re on back-to-back calls and 30 minutes has passed. It was only a matter of time until the solution of the virtual meeting now posed a threat of its own and made prevalent the need for reevaluation.

The constant Teams calls coupled with Zoom (touch base) meetings have taken time away from your employees having a sufficient amount of time to actually complete the work they are being tasked with. It is likely that due to remote or hybrid schedules, superiors felt the need to increase meetings as a way of monitoring their employee’s performance to ensure maintained productivity. In other words, “keeping tabs.” However, there is a big difference between being physically and mentally present in a meeting. Employees have gotten good at finding ways of attending meetings while not being “mentally present,” and this may not be with malicious intent. Regardless of if you have them attending 10 meetings per day, they still have a job to get done and should still be allowed to do it within their given work schedule. If there is a specific employee that you feel the need to constantly touch base with you may want to ask yourself why you feel that way. If you feel like you cannot trust that they are completing their work and not taking advantage of the glories of remote work, then maybe it’s time for you to cut ties with that employee.

A recent survey found that over 90% of executives believe that employees who are frequently muted or have their cameras turned off during video calls probably do not have a long-term future in their company. If you’re observing that there are a few repeat offenders when it comes to having cameras off or on mute during a call, we recommend speaking to them about it. You may be surprised that rather than your thoughts of them scrolling through social media they are actually using that time to catch up on work as this may be their 5th, “30-minute” (1-hour) meeting of the day. If this is the case, you may want to evaluate their schedule and determine if their attendance at these meetings is necessary. Try to minimize attendance at meetings by only involving those who are expected to participate or present information. The remaining employees will benefit from an email giving them their need-to-know information which they are likely to be more attentive to since it’s written in front of them.

We can also not neglect the fact that a face-to-face meeting is statistically more productive. It promotes open communication, and it ensures that those who are present are participating. If there are reports presented in the meeting, an employee is likely to jot notes, keeping them actively engaged and absorbing the information. Also, an in-person meeting is less likely to go off-topic, ensuring it is kept to the time allotted and not unnecessarily extended through the workday.

Though virtual meetings have taken a turn, there is no reason why they cannot be turned back around. It is up to the superiors of the company to set regulations on the number of virtual meetings being attended daily. We also recommend keeping a close eye on those employees you feel may be taking advantage of their remote work schedule and addressing unacceptable patterns. If you are in a job search or are a company searching for qualified candidates please give us a call at (518) 275-4816 as we are happy to help find your perfect fit!