Remote Work killed Work!

Okay, Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, BlueJeans (remember that one!?), etc. all killed work!

According to a recent study by Microsoft, which knows everything we do at work because it has access to every one of our calendars, our meetings have increased 300% since 2020!!

300% is not a small number!!

Why? We think if you’re working remotely, the only way to prove you’re working is by having more meetings. It turns out we suck at understanding how to measure work and performance. We always have, but this is just one giant data point to show how bad we suck at measuring work!

So, no matter where you work – remote, on-prem, hybrid- we all sit around and have meetings to ensure we are all working. The definition of insanity is what?

Stop f*cking having meetings!!

I know that is easier said than done. Too many people in organizations define their existence by meetings. We are addicted to meeting culture. If we don’t have a real work product to show people what we are doing, we must give them some “meeting product.”

Here’s how you stop “meeting culture”:

1. Never allow anyone to schedule one-hour meetings. Make a rule. It has to be under an hour or over an hour, but it can’t be one hour. (Just test it—you’ll be shocked at what happens!)

2. The agenda for every meeting must be sent out 24 hours before the meeting, or it will be automatically canceled. The agenda must clearly state the purpose of the meeting and its outcomes.

3. Have AI record every single meeting and save those recordings. When people are recorded, they tend to f*ck around less and get to the point.

4. Post a list on your public intranet or email out a scoreboard showing who schedules the most weekly and monthly meetings. No one will want to be #1 on that list!

This is just a cure for a symptom, I know.

In reality, we have an issue with measuring productivity and the success of each role for those who work. We need to establish clear measures of success, in every role, and then find out where people can be most successful. This is not about remote, or hybrid, or in-office. This is about being more productive and successful in our roles.

Collaboration is key for so many organizations and functions to succeed. When people went out to work in various environments, we defaulted to meetings to continue collaboration. We still need to collaborate. But it shouldn’t always be on video. Pick up a phone and talk to someone. Find a time when you can meet in person over a coffee. Are these still meetings? Maybe. However, a little more one-on-one time in different mediums can replace a lot of video team meetings that waste too much time.

Okay, you clicked on the post because you thought I was going to bash remote work, and you just can’t have that happen! It’s not about remote. It’s about our ability to develop measures of success and then trust those measures and our people to do their work. Having more meetings is not making us more successful.

2 thoughts on “Remote Work killed Work!

  1. I have three 1-hour meetings a week on the same topic; however, I only need to speak for about 5 mins during each one. I spend most of the meeting completing other work. Then I hop to another meeting where we all get beat up about not being productive and we need to get into a cadence. I’ll never forget the manager that said, “sir, my cadence is that I get in early to prep for my first meeting. Then I spend each meeting prepping for the next meeting.” He’s not wrong.

  2. Wonderful post per usual! I feel like us HR folks constantly yell at ELTs about meetings and agendas; only to end up in several meetings about having too many meetings. Because of the apparent 300% (!!) increase in virtual meetings, we now have the phrase “Zoom fatigue”; yet somehow, many people remain convinced that endless and often pointless meetings, are the way to go.

    If having excessive virtual meetings was the answer and came with data linked to increased productivity, we probably wouldn’t see the many trends continuing to show organizations struggle to attract and retain talent, increase engagement, upskill/reskill, reduce burn out, etc.

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