The Right Amount of Machine for Better Human Productivity
Guest Blog by Guillaume Vives, Chief Product Officer, BlueJeans Network
More meetings, less time. It’s the same story for every team and companies of every size. But there is only so much time in the day. A recent BlueJeans Network survey of 700 professionals found that 67% of the respondents report a significant increase in the number of weekly meetings over the past three years. And that is only part of the story. Less time for more meetings leads to employee burnout and turnover, low team morale and lasting effects on corporate culture.
In the past several years, the collaboration market has exploded with some amazing products to help teams meet and collaborate. But the focus has been on meeting quality so you can meet more often. I think it’s time to address meeting efficiency so there are fewer meetings overall.
Most of us use at least one messaging tool as part of our workday routine. These always-on communication portals have created an additional layer of workload distribution, visibility and accountability. We have also seen the unified communications space evolve dramatically. Products have rich features and competitive prices – a double win for users and customers.
Somewhere in the middle is the meeting itself. Physical and virtual. Audio, video and content sharing all in one frame that is accessible to the entire team. Meeting success is a product of both human and technical expertise. Meeting hosts have a responsibility to keep the discussion on track. Meeting participants expect to have the technology in place to join, speak, watch and share during the discussion. Meeting productivity must be managed as an individual component, and as a function of the overall collaboration environment. Everything from room size and meeting agendas to clear audio and video. And although we have seen a rapid cycle of collaboration innovation, teams still struggle with participation, engagement and productivity.
When is collaboration getting in the way of work?
In talking to customers, we often hear a few common meeting frustrations: fewer meetings, shorter meetings, better notes and follow up. This suggests that although we have the technology to conduct meetings, there is still an opportunity to have productive meetings that have a material impact on the business. According to the BlueJeans survey, meeting waste costs the US economy $400+ billion per year! A similar finding from Doodle in The State of Meetings report, found that workers waste 13 workdays a year in pointless meetings. Or put another way, it costs a company approximately $3,100 per employee for bad meetings. A few bad meetings a week, and you could have bought the employee of the month a new car. These aren’t small numbers. Teams and companies suffer when meetings are unproductive.
Productivity: The Endangered Corporate Species
We have identified three areas where meeting productivity is threatened. Time is precious for all of us, and 52% of our survey respondents say they work at night and on weekends because of too many meetings. In an interesting twist, however, people also report meeting FOMO (fear of missing out). The feeling that they will miss something important if they don’t attend the meetings that are blocking out their calendar and keeping them away from doing “important” work.
The second productivity killer for many teams and companies is the fact that the meeting itself evaporates. The discussion is ephemeral. Notes are subjective. The ability to carry momentum from one meeting to the next is a challenge and requires an internal champion to make it happen.
And that creates a third contributor to meeting unproductivity: meeting follow up requires discipline and most people are too focused on the next meeting. Action items are lost and forward progress is sidelined until the next meeting. It’s a cycle we all know too well.
Productivity is the outcome of improved collaboration, and a more intelligent meeting platform is the first step. Teams are looking for a smart meeting platform that optimises the pre, during and post meeting efforts to improve how ideas are captured, assigned and available for review after the meeting ends.
There is a window of opportunity for smart technology to serve the human experience. Call it artificial intelligence but the point is for people and teams to benefit from technical innovation. It’s a service relationship. The meeting platform serves the team. Great audio like we see from our partner Dolby Labs creates an innovation cycle where real time transcription is more accurate and can then be used to crowd source notes, assign action items and send meeting summaries. Technical innovation is the underbelly of shorter, more focused meetings, or perhaps, the ability to skip a meeting all together because the highlights provide the necessary context for those who missed it. It’s just the right amount of machine intelligence to produce better human collaboration.
Meetings Impact Everything
The enterprise IT professional often works alongside colleagues in facilities and HR to create a workplace that is productive and enjoyable for employees. That means thinking beyond connectivity and exploring how the physical and technical can work to create a productive environment. Less distracting and more focused for those in person and remote. It’s easier said than done and we can all speak to how more “productivity” tools get in the way of our work.
The right approach is a meeting supplement, a bionic meeting wrap to equip the team with the tools to be present and engaged. The tools support the process and create the best version of each person and the team. And with the right application of intelligent meeting functionality, we create a new cycle. Instead of a cycle of more meetings and less time that impacts team morale and company culture, we develop a measurable productivity quotient that lifts team spirit, inspires creativity and allows employees to prioritise their time for a better work/life balance.
Meetings won’t go away anytime soon but we can use the right tools to reshape the meeting experience as a gateway to better collaboration and communication that helps everyone feel better about the job they are doing. Take the time to evaluate the productivity tools in your organisation. It is a worthwhile investment that will touch every part of your company.