Your meetings aren’t working: New Verizon study says focus on meeting less to accomplish more

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Kyle Ragonese

Breaking the bad meetings habit: how Verizon Business is laser-focused on meeting less to accomplish more.

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NEW YORK - Companies rethinking their operations, their working models, and almost every aspect of their business due to the pandemic is not something new. What is noteworthy is seeing how businesses are leveraging lessons learned to innovate and improve their operations to meet customer and employee demands. In a new white paper published this week with Boston Consulting Group, Verizon Business CEO, Tami Erwin, and Verizon Business Chief Revenue Officer, Sampath Sowmyanarayan, break down how something as simple as altering the way meetings are conducted can greatly impact productivity, while providing insight, tips, and best practices from an extensive in-house experiment.

“Every leader today needs to reimagine the path forward for their business in a hybrid world. Verizon Business and BCG partnered to share concrete learnings that enable greater flexibility, connection, and collaboration,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business. “Because at the heart of it all, we know it takes the right technology infrastructure, security, and solutions, along with the right training and resources, to ensure businesses effectively navigate new ways of working.”

For organizations, the quick shift to a remote or distributed working model was an initial shock to the system, but now can be viewed as an opportunity to shape how employees adopt and adapt to new collaboration tools and processes. To make a meaningful impact, it’s not wholesale changes that win the day, it’s simple actions that make the biggest difference, such as:

  • Adopt simple, impactful practices to improve meetings:

    • Schedule 25- or 50-minute meetings with a 5-10 minute lagged start time

    • Clearly state the meeting’s purpose and agenda on the meeting invitation

    • Reassess the need for regular recurring meetings

  • Identify and challenge the need for meetings that can be replaced by asynchronous modes of work, i.e., email, chat, shared documents, or offline review

For one month, Verizon Business analyzed the meeting habits of a team of roughly 150 employees, where they tracked the success of various changes to meetings. The experimental practices were devised in collaboration with the team, recognizing the importance of designing new ways from within and not simply imposing them from the outside. Throughout the month, daily and weekly surveys were sent to participants for continuous feedback, enabling the real-time evolution of processes and practices. The results were overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating the impact small changes can drive:

  • 90 percent of participants said that the new ways of managing meetings helped improve overall meeting effectiveness

  • 83 percent said they feel more comfortable working through asynchronous modes, such as email, collaboration tools, and shared documents

  • 78 percent said they feel like they are wasting less time sitting in meetings where their live participation isn’t required

The 4-step process to identifying, implementing, and supporting simple actions to change how work gets done.

  1. Walk the talk: Secure support from a respected leader from the start.

  2. Design from within: Understand pain points and arrive at best practices from within the teams that you are targeting for change. Make it their idea.

  3. Make it easy: Create and re-create supporting tools to drive implementation and measure success. Ensure you have the right technology and solution infrastructure in place to accomplish effective hybrid communications plans.

  4. Iterate as you go: Create regular and frequent feedback cycles to support the continued adaptation of new meeting modes and supporting tools.

The next step is to scale. As noted in Step 3, making the process simple and easy to recreate sets the stage for broad expansion across the organization. The experiment conducted by Verizon can be implemented by any business. Additionally, Verizon Business has the solutions, expertise, and network technology to help businesses forge their own unique path toward transformation. From reworking their cybersecurity architecture or implementing the solutions to harness the power of 5G to simply adjusting their approach to meetings, Verizon has businesses covered.

The pandemic may have forced the hand of many business decision-makers to forever alter their operations, but in turn, it has opened the doors to take advantage of new ways of working. Making small adjustments such as changing bad meeting habits can help employees meet less and accomplish more.

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