3 game-changers that will improve your meetings and stimulate collaboration

- September 6, 2022 4 MIN READ

The nature of meetings is changing to keep up with hybrid work practices and global teams, writes Shannon Karaka, Country Leader & Head of Expansion AUNZ at Deel. He offers three game-changing strategies to improve your meetings and keep your team productive and engaged.

Since COVID, Australian businesses are embracing remote and flexible work in some shape or form. Whether a business has work-from-home days, fully remote employees, or even globally distributed teams, there’s a common challenge – how to hold productive and engaging meetings.

After all, we’ve all sat in a meeting where we’ve wonder why on earth it was necessary in the first place. And it’s not just your time that’s being tested. Research shows that meetings can reduce time spent on meaningful work or, even worse, take a toll psychologically.

So how can you use meetings to increase productivity, stimulate collaboration and boost morale? Try implementing these three game-changers to improve your meetings.

1. Be clear about both purpose and outcome

It’s often been said that every great meeting starts with a great agenda and it’s easy to see why. Having a clear agenda forces the organiser to think about the meeting’s purpose and outcome upfront. In turn, this is a great way to determine whether the meeting is necessary at all.

However, the mere presence of an agenda doesn’t guarantee it will be a worthwhile and productive meeting. Research found that the relationship between having an agenda and the quality of a meeting are not directly linked. What’s most important are the contents and structure of the agenda.

Too often, agendas will have broad and generic line items like “discuss Q4 budget.” It’s far more effective to phrase the item as an objective. For example, “Determine how to reduce Q4 marketing budget by 10 per cent while maintaining lead volume.” Framing the item as a challenging yet achievable objective will yield far more effective conversations.

2. Don’t always get down to business ASAP

At first, this may sound counterintuitive. After all, tip number one was about creating an effective meeting structure to maximise productivity and outcomes. But a great meeting does not have to come at the expense of team bonding.

Research has shown that small talk boosts employees’ positive social emotions, organisational citizenship behaviour and general wellbeing.

Small talk has arguably never been more critical than with the rise in globally distributed teams. With Deel’s recent Global Hiring Report H2 2022 showing that Australia is the APAC country with the most organisations hiring overseas remote workers, more and more virtual meetings will be necessary . And more virtual meetings means that dedicating time to small talk is important. This is because such conversation might not happen organically, as it would in a face-to-face office environment.

Many businesses do this by having a ‘question of the week’. These could be anything that encourages conversation, like ‘what show are you watching right now and why,’ ‘what’s your ideal holiday,’ or ‘tell us about what is happening in your local community’?

Other companies have time set aside every week for a team activity. This involves everything from trivia to bingo, drawing games and more.

Others encourage their employees to work from different locations throughout the year, which could welcome ‘unconventional’ meeting locations (this is also a great perk to help retain talent as more employees express their desire to travel while they work).

3. Nail asynchronous work

Asynchronous work is a fancy way of saying that not everyone in your team will necessarily work at the same time every day, or even on the same days.

This applies to employees who work part-time, have family commitments, log on early/log off late, or anything else. But it’s particularly the case when teams are based in different time zones.

In each of these scenarios and many others, one party may need to complete a task before someone else can get started on the next phase. Or the team need to work collaboratively on something simultaneously.

A meeting isn’t an option in every case, so having some guidelines about asynchronous work best-practice can help. These include:

  • Create crossover times  – that way employees can collaborate on tasks, solve problems together, brainstorm, or simply catch up. This could mean that one employee works a tad earlier or later to ensure some crossover, so be mindful of how this time is scheduled or develop a rotating roster to share the load.
  • Use collaboration tools to their full advantage – for example, live documents that can be worked on at the same time and version controlled. Or team chat groups where teams can clearly communicate their working hours.
  • Create a template for handovers – there’s nothing worse than trying to find a link for a document or forgetting which part of a project needed your attention. Having a simple, formulaic approach to handovers simplifies the whole process and saves time.

Improve your meetings

To improve your meetings, you need to understand how the way teams work has changed in the past few years. The advent of workplace technology which empowers teams to work in new and novel ways means long-held traditions like meetings need to be reconceptualised.

By developing an effective agenda, making time for team bonding and developing processes to work collaboratively when meetings aren’t an option, businesses will be well-placed to take full advantage of everything the future of work has to offer.

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