In times of economic uncertainty, global organizations must figure out how to respond. While leaders must do more with the resources they already have, scaling back might present an unexpected silver lining. They now have an opportunity to re-evaluate the way they spend their most precious resource: time.
In the modern workplace, teams hemorrhage time and energy on meetings, which have risen by approximately 12.9% per worker. In fact, 70% of meetings create barriers to completing tasks, according to a study by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and that was before the Covid-19 pandemic. Lost time adds up to lost dollars and missed opportunities. A recent study by Otter.ai found that enterprises could save up to $100 million a year by nixing inefficient meetings.
Adopting Slack reduces the need for meetings by dramatically improving day-to-day teamwork and collaboration. That’s because Slack is a single, virtual space that connects your people, tools, customers and partners for faster and more flexible work. Here are four simple ways to reduce meetings to help you save time and make a big dent in that bottom line.
Consider other options before scheduling that meeting
A meeting is your organization’s most expensive means of collaboration, so it’s prudent to take a pause before hitting send on that calendar invitation.
As part of Slack’s Future Forum research, we spoke with Melanie Collins, Dropbox’s chief people officer. When it comes to planning meetings, Collins shared that her team focuses on the “three D’s”: discuss, debate and decide.
If you’re giving a performance review, discussing a nuanced topic or deciding on something where context matters, scheduling a meeting is probably necessary. Keep in mind that each attendee should play a specific role during the meeting, or they shouldn’t be on the invite.
However, when the aim is to distribute information (with no need to discuss, debate or decide), you’ll probably save more time communicating in Slack. This promotes flexibility, enabling your team to tune in when they have a free moment, while eliminating the hassle of coordinating calendars—something that’s particularly painful for globally distributed teams.
The key is to not default to a meeting without considering other options that will actually improve both performance and efficiency. Most of your company’s collaboration can be fully asynchronous—saving time and improving your team’s performance.
“We told everyone to focus on the three D’s: discuss, debate and decide. If you’re not doing that, then there’s probably no need for the meeting.”
Streamline collaboration in channels
Slack boosts productivity by streamlining collaboration across your entire organization. Instead of creating a bunch of email chains, all your communication is organized into channels that are easy to create, join and search.
Channels empower hybrid teams to replace in-person meetings while staying on the same page when it comes to important business decisions. Rather than gathering in a conference room at a set time each week, team members can share updates and strategize in channels, no matter where they are in the world. Channels offer a space to share updates, host online brainstorming sessions and document conversations in searchable threads.
Threads in Slack create organized discussions around specific messages. Need to give feedback on a file? Want to add context to someone else’s observation? Those moments are ideal for starting a thread.
If you realize you need to jump into an ad hoc meeting to resolve a complex issue on the fly or brainstorm a creative brief, you can start a huddle in any channel or DM to have a live conversation. Similar to the way you might drop by a colleague’s desk to solve a thorny problem, huddles create a space to quickly talk through tasks. Plus, everyone in that channel or DM is free to join or leave the conversation as they please.
Provide rich context with asynchronous clips
Giving up face-to-face communication altogether isn’t ideal, given that 93% of communication relies on nonverbal social cues. With Slack, it’s a snap to share information via clips.
Clips are quick video and audio recordings you can share with others to listen to (or even read through the automated transcripts) later. For example, you can make a screen recording that walks through the latest deliverable and send it to your team members to review and give feedback at their convenience.
Clips also empower remote teams to maintain face-to-face communication without having to coordinate across busy schedules and varied working hours.
Block out time for deep focus
Finding more heads-down time to complete complex assignments is a priority for today’s workers. Encourage your team to put recurring holds on their calendars for focused work—and make sure these times are honored. These “focus blocks” allow employees to be their most productive without fear of interruption.
At Slack, we’ve had success piloting no-meeting Focus Fridays and Maker Weeks. On Focus Fridays, teams cancel all internal meetings and employees are encouraged to turn off their notifications so they can work without interruptions. During Maker Weeks, our teams cancel all internal recurring meetings. Some teams trade meetings for asynchronous status check-ins on active projects, while others simply skip them that week. And while many teams might continue to have external meetings with customers, providing an internal break frees up more focus time for employees.
Maker Weeks are an opportunity to tackle meaty projects—such as designing a product launch or a customer presentation—and to have the space to focus deeply on development work, sales plays, team goals, strategic work, etc. It’s about giving employees more sizable chunks of time to make major headway on their to-do lists so they can move business forward.
Creating a mindful meeting culture is a team effort
Everyone has a role to play when it comes to protecting precious time. Aim to keep leadership informed about the productivity gains you’re making by trading meetings for asynchronous collaboration by sharing employee feedback, real data and supporting strategies with leadership at every level. Doing this promotes a company culture that embraces innovative ideas that further increase efficiency and flexibility. As teams adopt better meeting practices, the benefits will ripple across the whole organization.