The rise of the virtual meeting – what we gained, what we lost, and what’s next in 2021

2020 was hard in so many ways. We had to adapt, shift, learn and grow faster than we’ve ever had before. In that process, we lost a lot of freedoms but – we also gained new ones. Across the globe, we collectively discovered a newfound appreciation for the value of physical proximity. Technology is great, but nothing beats real human connection.

One of the major themes to come out of 2020 was the rise of the virtual meeting. Whatever your poison – Teams, Zoom or Google Meet – there they were. Day after day, week after week, many of us have spent more time in meetings. In a commissioned report by Microsoft, it was found that 60% of employees are unsatisfied with their current meetings and 57% find meetings unproductive.  

So, what have we learnt over the last 12 months? 

There’s been plenty of research around preferences for where and how we work. We also know that most employees are likely to convert to a hybrid working model – where they commute to the office 2 or 3 days a week. This tells us that hybrid meetings and ways of working are going to become the norm – at least for the foreseeable future.  

With meetings playing an increasingly bigger part of our daily grind, it’s going to be crucial that businesses put some effort behind improving the employee experience.  

With this in mind, here’s our take on what you should be focusing on for virtual meetings in 2021.  

Tip 1: Think about your device strategy to support hybrid meetings 

One of the consistent pieces of feedback we hear from our clients is how remote working has been the ‘great equaliser.’ People who were working remotely or in geographically dispersed teams before the pandemic feel like they’re voice is being heard. They’re no longer the forgotten meeting participant. A really important step moving forward will be to keep remote workers feeling engaged and heard even as more of us head back into the workplace. Thankfully, there’s plenty of fantastic technology that companies can invest in for individual use and in smallmedium and large rooms to keep meetings effective.  

Tip 2: Identify business cases that align to the needs of your staff 

One of the biggest reasons why people resist change is because they don’t understand the value and how it relates to their role. A great way to curb this is by identifying business scenarios that align to the different needs and roles within your business. When doing this, make sure to think about your current state (ask how do we run meetings today? What types of meetings or internal virtual events do we currently run?) and how you’d like this to look like in the future – identifying which roles the scenario is relevant to and how complex it would be for people to adopt. A great way to do this is breaking your scenarios into a matrix of ‘quick wins, first success, business transformation and to avoid/keep for later.’ 

Tip 3: Upskill your staff to confidently use the tech 

It’s well known – technology is only as good as the people who use it! Key to improving employee satisfaction and experience is making sure all staff have the right capabilities to confidently use the technology – both the software and in-room meeting technology. This is where partnering with an expert to upskill can be helpful.  

Need help with your meetings strategy?

Engage Squared hold an Advanced specialisation for Meetings and Meeting rooms. Get in touch to see if your business qualifies for a free in-depth Teams Meetings planning workshop! Email info@engagesq.com for all the details.  

See how others are using MS Teams to improve communication and collaboration

A recent project at Bupa Australia captures the tangible benefit of the projects we deliver. A project team at Bupa managed to slash meeting minutes from 60 minutes to 30 minutes after embracing Microsoft Teams. This translated into 5,760 minutes or 96 hours saved in the final two months of the project. Halving meetings across the whole portfolio has the potential to save up to 14,400mins / 240hrs per typical project. Read the full case study here.  

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