Launching a new product during lockdown.

launching a new product during lockdown

Launching a new product during lockdown wasn’t in our original plan, but hey sh*t happens.

As you probably expect launching a new product during lockdown wasn’t a milestone we figured at the end of last year. Funny how things can change, not just for us but for the whole world. Back in January the picture looked pretty different, we were well on our way to launching version three of Amazemeet, we’d rolled out some updates to v2 and were happy with the uptake and response so it was full steam ahead for better meetings.

Amazemeet v3 was so radically different we were effectively viewing it as a whole new product. Functionality in v3 was all about actually helping you to have a better meeting and centred on the virtual meeting assistant. If you’ve read any of our blogs about this you’ll know how important that is, more here. It was and is a true game changer for meetings and more importanly it’s something we need.

It would not be an exaggeration to say crappy meetings are one of the biggest challenges facing the corporate world right now. Literally billions of dollars are wasted on these meetings every year and it’s getting worse very quickly. So we had our product, a great value proposition, some awesome marketing lined up (even if I do say so myself) and the dev team were on it.

It would not be an exaggeration to say crappy meetings are one of the biggest challenges facing the corporate world right now.

Then coronavirus struck

Out of the blue things quickly started to get serious. Things were bad in China, Italy was starting on its terrible journey, Spain, Germany, the USA nobody seemed immune to this. We went from worried to not being allowed out of the house in the space of a few short weeks. Bigger things were happening than v3. Mike decided we could help so we put half the teams time onto Corotrac a simple app to track symptoms and cases. This went way beyond just the Amazemeet team, people from all over the world got involved in the project. People just wanted to help.

it also made us re-evaluate some of the features of Amazemeet. Now people were working from home video calling functionality took on a new dimension. We surmised that this wasn’t going to be a short-lived change so we added a bunch of features to Amazemeet to ensure connectivity was as good as the meeting management and we didn’t stop there. We condensed an entire feature roll-out into the 2 months that we had earmarked for testing and bug fixes before launch. We’ll still be doing that and a big thanks to you guys who’ve signed up to test.

What have we learnt

We knew we had a pretty successful product with over 13,000 users globally. I think the leasons we have really learnt boil down to two.

Firstly how fragile the world is. Coronavirus has upended the entire world, economies are nosediving the path back seems unclear. Businesses, who had enjoyed a sustained period of growth, were suddenly in trouble after 8 weeks of lockdown. Panic buying was rife, people were lost and worse still huge numbers of people were dying. This transcends business and I believe it has caused us all to revaluate what’s important, and that’s a good thing.

Secondly, despite how well you plan, things happen. Ok, this was a biggy, but it just goes to show that you can never be certain about the future. It’s how you react that’s important. I remember the first meeting we had as things started to look bad. Nobody panicked, we simple brainstormed outcomes and how we would deal with them.

Amazemeet will be better for it

Finding a silver lining is hard right now. What we do know is that Amazemeet will be better as a result of what we’ve gone through. Not because it will have one extra feature but because as a team we’ll be better. We’ve been through some tough tests over the last few months and come out of it. That’s invaluable and something that will live with us for a long while to come.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings lockdown or not

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What will matter in the new world of work?

new world of work

The new world of work has somewhat been thrust on us. Will it change our values and how we define successful working?

As we’ve been forced into a new world of work we’ve been reflecting on how our entire working ecosystem will change and the values that we cling to will be reshaped, oh and having some better meetings. Covid-19 struck the world hard and extremely fast. It pushed the vast majoirty of us into enforced home working, overnight companies became distributed businesses whether they wanted to or not.

It forced organisations to quickly re-evaluate their employer, employee relationships in the context of remote working, Did employees have the right technology, how would work fit in with homeschooling and childcare? Employers instantly had to be accommodating, the lines between business and personal have become blurred. But, most of us have made it work and not suffered too much as a result. In fact issues that once were the preserve of personal and family life are now a part of company life too. It feels like business has got emotional. Why? Because companies can’t function without people, businesses had a choice to make, either shut up shop, take some government money and hope to weather the storm or adapt.

It seems like those that have adapted have done it quickly and generally the experience has not been as unpalatable as the press makes out.

Can we go back?

I’m not sure we can. What seems abnormal now will quickly become the new normal. Companies may well be judged on how they dealt with employees during this unprecedented period. Will we see a new kind of business emerge that is happier to integrate around it’s employees lives rather than the other way round? It’s certainly true that the kind of perks we used to think were great no longer matter. I for one would much rather have a balanced working life and time with family than regular trips to a bar.

There’s also so the obvious cost saving that will come from lockdown and the anticipated economic downturn. Do we really need 5 floors of central London office space? Twitter has announced regardless the outcome of the next few months that staff can work from home permanently. I doubt this is a PR stunt, they probably realised quickly that it’s made little difference to their operating model so why not.

Where’s the future?

6 months ago distributed business were real outliers. That’s clearly changed, will we now see a wave of people looking for roles only with businesses who offer mainly work from home? I expect so. Once we can get out and do things again working from home is awesome. The technology is here, the infrastructure exists we just needed a push and we got kind of a big one.

Values that matter.

Productivity is linked to the amount of time spent in the office, said no study ever. Clearly it will be hard for people to argue that anymore, if they still were. I think values will be shaped around balance and understanding in this new world of work. Organisations that can positively blur the line between personal and professional, being mindful of each and giving equal importance to each. I think that’s the kind of place people will actually be happy working in and as we know happy, engaged employees are the root to success.

Tools to make it easier

If we we want to embrace this new world of work, and we should, we’re going to need the right tools to thrive. That’s why we’re levelling up Amazemeet with some amazing new features like the Ai meeting facilitator. It’s like having a PA, secretary and meeting coach rolled into one, designed to make your meeting efficient and effective whether you’re in a bedroom or the boardroom.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings in the new normal

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Distributed workforces; The new normal

new normal

Talking about the “new normal” seems odd right now as nothing is normal. What’s certain is that things are changing in the way we work.

So firstly what is the new normal. Well as a phrase it was coined post the financial crash of 2008. It basically implies that something abnormal has become normal. It’s kind of apt that it’s become the word on everyone’s lips right now just as it was in 2008/2009. Yes I’m old enough to remember that vividly.

Where distributed workforces are involved it perfectly describes right now as most companies hove a workforce spread across home offices, kitchen tables and bedrooms the world over. And guess what, for a lot of businesses it’s not really caused much damage or upheaval. In fact the bean counters are probably sat at home working out how much they can save on office rents!

For years the idea of distributed workforces has been something of a novelty. Pursued by the 5 hour work week converts and zanny start-ups looking to be different. But quietly behind the scenes some companies have been making it work, and work well. Take Automattic for example, they’re the commercial company behind wordpress and they’re worth $1 Billion plus at last valuation. They have 1,000 plus people working in 75 countries and are 100% distributed. They would have been considered an outlier 3 months ago, but now we’re talking new normal are they the blueprint for the future of work?

What’s interesting is how many companies that are finding the enforced change actually quite straightforward. This enforced lockdown, in the UK at least, has proved to be a great stress test of the vital infrastructure, internet and telecomms and it’s all worked. Virgin media notwithstanding. It’s no coincidence that the Microsoft teams ad has been playing on virtually every TV channel around the world at most times of the day. Why? Because some smart person has realised that things are going to change permanently and working remotely will be one.

It’s perhaps too early to say what will happen in three months, 6 months or longer but what is certain is that we’ve discovered, albeit through a rather terrible cause, that we can work this way. Technology has been our saviour, once again. Working remotely also has other benefits, no more 2 hours of commuting, more time with family and yeah sitting in front of a computer in your pants!

So where does Amazemeet come into this? Well it’s the perfect time for an AI base software that helps you have better meetings. One thing is for certain that distributed workforces need the tools to work efficiently and that’s where Amazemeet excels. It’s there every step of the way to help plan, execute and manage follow on for your meetings and it will do most of it for you. Nobody likes people not showing up, Amazemeet ensures attendees are at the meeting prepared and ready. Amazemeet manages the timings to ensure things don’t spiral and it makes sure everyone knows what their post meeting actions are. In short it’s your meeting facilitator, personal assistant and secretary all rolled into one.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings in the new normal

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Amazemeet, introducing your new meeting facilitator.

meeting facilitator

Meeting facilitation is what makes Amazemeet special, so what is it?

The meeting facilitator isn’t just a nice to have it’s essential because the world we live in now allows us to have fantastically useless remote meetings in glorious 4k video with world class sound and precisely the wrong people, seamlessly scheduled at a time that suits, to have a meeting no one understands the need for. Or certainly that’s what we hear, it’s why we’ve created Amazemeet so you can start having better meetings.

To go forward we first need to go back. So a little bit of history … believe it or not, 50 years ago – we had much better meetings. Sure, there were fewer meetings and they weren’t online – but that is not *why* they were better.

They were better because they were facilitated – from start to finish – by trained facilitators. Almost every office had a secretary and this person was trained in lots of skills  – including how to run meetings. Fast forward to 2020 and there are far fewer secretaries in the world of work. Today they are called Executive Assistants and that title means different things to different people. The art of meeting facilitation has been lost somewhere along the way, maybe because we’ve made it far to easy to have meetings we just assumed we didn’t need it?

At Amazemeet – we are not afraid of tackling the hard things. We recognise that as more people meet online, the need for facilitation that leads to effective outcomes becomes even more critical. That’s why Amazemeet version 3 is all about facilitation.

Please welcome Maya – our AI powered meeting assistant and facilitator.

With Maya – every meeting organiser gets their own facilitator (don’t worry you can name it any name you like) – complete with an avatar.

The facilitator helps with the following:

  1. Guided Meeting Wizard: Maya will walk you through the creation of new meetings
  2. Regular Design Check Ins:  Maya regularly checks in with invited contributors and makes sure people show up
  3. Start-to-Finish Meeting Facilitation: Maya will start the meeting with an intro and guide your meeting through all the agenda – from start to finish with helpful prompts to make sure it runs smoothly.
  4. Time management: Some things do overrun necessarily, Maya will minimise the knock on effect. Suggesting dropping items from the agenda if there is a hard finish and automatically scheduling another meeting to cover those dropped items.
  5. Enforce Good Practice: e.g. Making sure that participants have read the pre-meeting items – because no one really wants to be on a meeting where we are all reading a document OR worse still  – have a document read to us! Maya will make sure you don’t knowingly start one of those.
  6. Post Meeting Follow up  – Maya will follow up on tasks and outcomes, keeping all stakeholders informed.

This is just the beginning, Maya will, over time, learn how you like your meetings to run and make improvements and suggestions tailored specifically to your preferences.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

Looking beyond lockdown.

looking beyond lockdown

As we look beyond lockdown what kind of world will we emerge into? Will we see lasting change?

Asking somewhat what the future holds right now is a bit like asking for the winning lottery numbers. It’s still far from certain where we will be in one or two months. What is certain however, is that large chunks of the economy are going to take a hit. Some, retail in particular, was on shaky ground before Covid-19 came along and it would be fair to say the outbreak is the straw that’s broken the camel’s back. We do have some motivation however to embrace positive change especially where meetings are concerned. If you don’t believe us read our post the hidden cost of crappy meetings.

What will the lasting impact be?

It’s hard to see how some aspects of the economy will recover. The high street may well never return as we know it. That will be a great shame but it’s also very clear that a traditional model of retail has had it’s day. As people move more towards seeking experiences this could be an opportunity for our shopping streets to transform into places we actually want to visit, rather than rows of the same shops selling the kind of things we get from Amazon.

For meeting culture and those sectors Amazemeet works with the shift is likely to be more cultural. Enforced remote working was at first a pain. But now more and more people are beginning to embrace the change. Organisations are starting to question the need for large, expensive offices for all employees and lets hope will embrace a more flexible future.

The challenges that come with this are many. Having the right tools in place to communicate and corordinate become more and more important. Organisations need to plan for flexible work and ensure processes are defined and understood by everyone. I read an amazing book on this subject, check it out here.

Evaluating the change?

It would be very easy once we emerge from lockdown to crave a shift back to business as usual. There’s always comfort in maintaining the status quo and it’s easy to see how some business will relish the chance to get back to their view of normal. That overlooks what a great opportunity this has been presented to us all. I believe there will be some good to come from our enforced lockdowns. Obviously there’s nothing to be found in the outbreak but the future may tell a different story.

Just look at the advances being made in vaccine development. As many a scientist will tell you war and war like circumstances are often hotbeds of advancement because they bring neccesity to the table. The same could be said of now.

I challenge the smart organisations amongst us to think critically about how lockdown has impacted their organisations, good and bad. Positives will be found and they need to be absorbed into our normal business lives.

Having the tools to sustain change

This period in time has either been really hard or really easy. Some organisations are set-up for flexible working some are not. Some industries cannot support flexible working at all some can. Middle ground is a difficult place to occupy. But that’s OK. For those that can embrace it and to reiterate my earlier point the tools and process to make flexible working better than the traditional office trudge are vital. Amazemeet recognised this for meetings some time ago with a clear drive to hyper efficient meetings. The difference now is that rather than having more time to actually work in the office, you have more time to work and spend with your family. It’s also where project management tools like Asana come into their own. All these cloud based solutions are completely agnostic when it comes to geography and that’s vitally important for a distributed workforce.

Start planning for the future

Embracing lasting change is likely to mean a complete rethink of the physical space we occupy as organisations. We need to start thinking about the individual rather than centring how our organisations function around a place. This will take time and require a huge shift in mindset but it’s a great first step to moving out of a factory mentality.

How great would it be if our office was simply a place to meet colleagues and customers, a place to connect physically and our workplace was wherever we chose it to be?

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

Breaking out of the bad meeting culture

Breaking out of the bad meeting culture

Sometimes to break a habit we need a big push.

Covid-19 could be the best chance we’ve got of breaking out of the bad meeting culture we’ve been stuck in for the last 10 years. That might sound kind of heartless but very often to really drive home a behaviour change we need a big event. A push to home working for most of the Amazemeet community could be just that. Let us clarify though, in no way are we suggesting that Covid-19 is a good thing but like most ingrained habits humans need something really monumental to force a change.

The good thing is there’s definitely a reluctance for certain kinds of meetings to happen online. We highlighted how much money these bad meetings cost in our hidden cost of crappy meetings blog. Spoiler alert, it’s a lot.

The meetings that tend to be the biggest culprits are:

Project Status meetings

As project teams become more cross-functional with diverse skill sets and people reporting into different managers there’s often a nervousness amongst project leaders around team communication. This generally results in the infamous recurring meeting. The problem is the information shared is very often irrelevant to certain groups within the project team at any given point. So you sit through a meeting waiting for the one thing that affects you.

This is the exact opposite of what Amazemeet advocates for meeting attendees to be able to contribute. Rather it’s much easier for teams to add updates to a shared drive, forum, slack channel etc.

Information broadcasts

These are those meetings you sit through where someone stands up and runs through news, company announcements etc. They are a big time waste. People read faster than they listen to unimaginative delivery. The irony is that if these sessions are done well they can work as team building exercises and help to develop a culture of two-way communication. Sadly 99% aren’t and could be handled by a page on your intranet, an email or a print out by the water cooler.

I challenge you to add up how many of these kind of meetings you have each week?

The good news is that when we’re working remote there’s a reluctance to have these meetings with such frequency. I’m not sure why, maybe remote doesn’t give the organiser the platform they crave. Or perhaps the organiser knows they’re inherently a waste of time and it’s easier not to do them when your not all in the same office? Either way it’s good news for anyone obsessed about having better meetings, like us!

The rest of the key meetings:

  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Innovation
  • Team building

are super valuable, and they work online. These meetings tend to have actual outcomes as all good meetings should. After all that’s what we’re trying to achieve, effective meetings.

Our hope is that as we start to emerge back into the world from our home office cocoons that we won’t just slip back in to our bad meeting culture and pick up where we left of. There’s signs that a cultural shift is on the cards the challenge we all have is to embrace it rather than assuming it’s a negative. We live in a world that tells us we must be connected to everyone else all of the time, is this a good thing. Businesses used to function perfectly well with far ;less meetings than they do today.

Cast yourself back 25 years?

That’s a time before social media. Do you even know what a working day looked like back then? I challenge you to talk to someone who worked in a corporation 25 years ago and ask them about the meeting culture back then. How often did they meet, did meeting less affect their ability to do their job. The answers might be surprising.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

Are we about to see a reset of meeting culture?

reset of meeting culture

Could current circumstances see a reset of meeting culture, are we about to witness a happy by-product of a terrible situation?

As we all being tackling online meeting could this be the catalyst for a reset of meeting culture? We’ve explored the hidden cost of crappy meetings and it’s fair to say we have too many and too many are bad. But, something interesting is happening. As we move to enforced home working for many of us our meetings have moved online and we’re having less of them. For some reason meetings on a whim tend to be less popular. Endless rounds of announcements can be done much easier via email or a messaging app. The meetings we are having are becoming more effective by default as we’re only pulling people in who need to be there and where we have more certainty over the outcomes we want.

Why is behaviour different?

It’s a strange situation because the technology that has led us into every increasing rounds of meetings is the very technology we are relying on to keep us connected. From my personal perspective an online meeting feels like a bit more effort, it feels like it should be more effective. Certainly that’s the case when it’s the only format we can actually use. When the technology is a support for face to face the behaviours we see are markedly different. Has this got something to do with people being alone? It’s a tricky question to answer but early indications are a positive one when you consider the amount of money we waste on bad meetings.

Do we just have bigger things to worry about?

Well without mentioning the C-word I think we can all agree that there are bigger things going on in the world than our daily stand-up. Depending on the length of lockdown though this will dissipate and we will have to get back to business as usual. Take Amazemeet for example, we are a truly distributed team working 100% remote. Our team is spread across Europe and Asia, apart from a general sense of worry our working process hasn’t been affected. Whilst most companies don’t work this way they are having to quickly get to grips with a distributed model. Once they get it down i’m sure many will wonder why they spend so much on office space! From a meeting culture perspective though i doubt they will fall back into there old habits, especially if there isn’t a face to face element.

Driving effectiveness

The opportunity that exists around a reset of meeting culture is massive. If we can move to a place where meetings are about effectiveness then we can save a ton of money. I mean billions of dollars, pounds, euros, we can also free up time to actually get work done and have more time to do things we really enjoy. It’s an exciting time especially for Amazemeet as we play a key role in helping drive that effectiveness.

Will a reset of meeting culture last?

So cop out answer, it’s hard to predict. What is certain though is that business behaviour is certainly secondary to what we do in our personal lives. Looking back on the 2008 financial crisis gives us some indication, people tend to gravitate towards things that are considered a sin; chocolate, alcohol are good examples. It’s fair to say after lockdown many of us will want to socialise again, but this doesn’t mean we need to slip back into bad habits at work. I’m sure most companies will have realised the benefits of more flexible working and less pointless meeting. Maybe we’ll see some bold executives and employees actually stand up and raise this. Hopefully we’ll look back on this period of time and draw positives as well as negatives.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running effective meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

Home working tips, how to stay sane!

Home working tips

For some of us switching to home working has been very straight forward, for others not so much. Here’s some home working tips to be productive and more importantly avoid going insane!

Home working is now the new normal for most of us. For some it’s business as usual for others it’s a whole new world. But, there are things you can do to make it a whole load better. Here’s our favourite home working tips and remember keep having better meetings!

Create a schedule

It sounds kinda obvious but having a schedule and sticking to it helps keep work-life balance in check. It’s all too easy to overwork and get into bad habits. Don’t, it will kill your productivity. Why not try something like RescueTime it’s a great tool for keeping track of your time.

Set some ground rules

This is especially important if you have kids. It’s important that everyone in your space knows when you’re working and they give you the space you need during these times. But, don’t be surprised if the kids dive in when your Zoom has overrun into family time. It happens to the best of us 😉

Have breaks and stick to them

When you’re in the office the amount of breaks you have is huge. Whether that’s structured like your lunch or the 5 minutes you grab to get coffee and chew the fat with Dave in accounts. Breaks matter, they allow your mind to relax even for a short time. It’s incredibly difficult to stay focused for long periods without a break and the quality of your work will deteriorate if you try to.

Create a space to work

If you can use a separate room from the other people in your space. That’s difficult especially right now when whole families are home on lockdown. Having a space to concentrate free of distractions will help your day run smoothly. The kitchen table on the other hand can be problematic especially if you’re sharing it with a 7 year old’s art project.

Keep in contact with people

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re cut off from colleagues. Jump on Slack or better still drop your work mates a quick call to check in. It’s important not to coccoon yourself into a bubble, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Don’t miss meetings

Just as you wouldn’t turn up late or not at all to a meeting face to face then you absolutely shouldn’t do this remotely either. If you’ve got your schedule down meetings play an important role in decision making and business as usual. For a lot of us the realisation is dawning that we can do our roles equally as well from a laptop in the shed as we can in our offices.

If all else fails!

If all else fails you could do what this guy did and make a fully functioning spiderman web shooter. We’re guessing he may have missed a few meetings along the way though!

Above all give it time, we’ve been on lockdown for a few weeks at most depending on where you are. If you get a routine in place quickly you’ll soon settle into a rhythm.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running meetings, especially online.

Try it Free.

How to have great online meetings

how to have great online meetings

As many of us are now working from home, this week we share some tips on how to have great online meetings.

Most of us assume that online meetings run exactly as their face to face counterparts do but that’s not always the case. Over recent years the amount of online meetings has grown exponentially, making them a much more viable option for all kinds of businesses not just the kind of people you’d expect. Technology has played a role as has a changing work place environment and businesses general attitude to home and flexible working.

As I’m sure you know we’re all about better meetings and there are nuances to meeting online that it’s worth considering before you dive in.

Pick a platform, there’s lots.

This is the point you’d expect us to bemoan how the technology has facilitated our failing meeting culture but, we’ll skip that for this article 😉

A quick web search will throw up a large number of platforms available for online meetings, there’s loads out there, from the basic freebies to super sophisticated (i.e. expensive) software options. Our advice? Do your research. There are so many options, so take the time to work out exactly what your business requirements are and select a solution accordingly.

Once you’ve made a choice, take the time to fully understand the platform and its functionality. As with all areas in business, it’s imperative to plan and be prepared. So be sure to do a few practise runs with friends or colleagues, before your first actual meeting. Not being on mute when the dogs barking can be a little embarassing with clients in the meeting!

When you’re confident you know what you’re doing, here’s our advice for running an engaging and productive online meeting.

Communication is key.

Communication is key. This isn’t just regarding the meeting itself, but in the run up to it. Firstly, make sure you let ALL the expected participants the exact date and time. There is nothing worse than a bunch of people sat looking uncomfortably into their webcams waiting for someone to join who actually has no idea their supposed to be there in the first place.

As with all types of meetings, make sure you create and circulate an agenda for the meeting beforehand. Allocating time limits to each section can help keep things on track and stop breakouts that wander off at a tangent and throw the whole meeting out. Pulling everyone back on track is much harder online than face to face, so ensuring the agenda is followed is key. Time limits also stop sections rambling on and people becoming disengaged.

Assign a facilitator.

It’s a really good idea to nominate someone to lead the meeting (usually the person who has requested and set the meeting up, but not always).

Although you’ve spent the time familiarising yourself with the platform, assume no one else there has ever used it before. The meeting lead should explain how the platform works, as well as getting everyone to introduce themselves prior to kicking off the agenda.

Make up for the lack of face to face interaction.

We’ve all sat in those meetings. The really dry ones that seem to run forever and send you into a total stupor. Online meetings can especially suffer as there can be a lack of personality with not being face to face. Combat this with exciting visuals, video, sound and try to making the meeting as interactive as possible (remember, this is a meeting, not a presentation). Try and inject some humour (if appropriate) and encourage people to comment, questions and feedback. Many of the available platforms include the functionality for things like live brainstorming and polls, all of which help to ignite and sustain people’s interest.

Assign the follow up.

Finally, ensure you follow up the meeting with an email, summarising the main points of discussion, tasks and next steps. And, as always, thank everyone for their time and encourage post-meeting feedback.

Find a tool that helps you manage it all.

You may have noticed that running a great meeting online is similar to the a face to face. Albeit without the human interaction. A great way to ensure you tick all the boxes is to use a tool that helps you plan, run and action your meetings.

Amazemeet’s a great tool for running online meetings and the enhanced functionality that’s coming with the version 3 launch will build on this.

Try it Free.

The hidden cost of crappy meetings

hidden cost of crappy meetings

There’s a hidden cost of crappy meetings and some of us are starting to realise just how much this cost really is.

Hot on the heals of our recent ugly truth about meetings blog we wanted to explore this underlying cost the vast majority of us are paying. There’s a number of distinct sides to this, first and for most people most importantly is the financial cost. Second, there’s the cost to our wellbeing and there’s also the potential environmental cost. This week we explore each one in turn, hopefully it will open some eyes to what I guess a lot of you out there already suspect.

Meetings are unproductive, that costs money.

When surveyed nearly 70% of executives consider meetings to be unproductive. That’s more than two thirds and to put it into context the infographic we recently published put a figure on this, $37 Billion in the US alone. Let’s spin that on it’s head and assume we stopped having half of those unproductive meetings that could be nearly $20 Billion saved.

It’s estimated that across organisations the amount of time spent in meetings equates to around 15% for all employees. As you move up the ranks that increses dramatically to upwards of 50%. The meeting time is one thing but executives estimate they spend upwards of 4 hours on meeting prep. So again if the 70% figure for meetings being unproductive is true more than 30% of an executives working time could be considered unproductive, because that’s the time spent in crappy meetings.

This is quite frankly stark. It’s hard to pin down exactly what’s to blame. It seems somewhat of a cop out to suggest it’s purely down to the technology, a meeting run well via a video conference is still a well run meeting. What is apparent though, that like most technology we’ve adopted, certain practices have become commonplace without thinking about the wider context and the impact they have as a whole. It seems there’s a symbiotic relationship between the ease of facilitation and the effectiveness of outcomes.

As a marketer the psychology is quite simple to me, things that are easy are often assigned a low value and perhaps this is where we’ve gone wrong. Meetings used to be about productivity and outcomes but we seem to have shifted to a place where meetings are more about having meetings because it’s so easy to have them.

It’s a dangerous place for corporations to be.

Meetings impact on wellbeing.

Employee wellbeing is becoming more and more important to organisations. They realise that happy, engaged employees are more productive, more motivated and less likely to look for employment elsewhere. Crappy, unproductive meetings do nothing to assist. In fact multiple surveys suggest that having better meetings is a route to improving employee wellbeing.

It’s not to be underestimated. Count up the sick days, the drain on talent in an organisation and general lack of productivity and I bet you will find a correlation to bad meetings. It’s a survey that needs to be done, watch this space!

It’s sadly no coincidence that the phrase “A happy workforce is a productive workforce” is certainly very true. The quickest way to mess it up is to disengage the workforce and bad meetings are a quick way to do that. They aren’t the only factor but like many things in our working lives they contribute to the sum of all the other issues and can certainly tip the scales.

Jeff Bezos certainly thinks so. He avoids meetings before 10am, limits attendance to the number of people that can be fed by two pizzas and has banned Powerpoint!

What’s the environmental impact?

This is probaly harder to quantify especially as a huge number of meetings take place remotely. However as the technology has become a part of our working lives there’s always a cost. Server farms create pollution and we certainly need lots of those to power the tools we take for granted.

Technology requires power and for the most part we still rely on power sources that are not very green. Great steps have been made by corporations to buy power from renewable sources but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

data centres in the U.S. alone are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020. Data center efficiency and sustainability is a universal challenge that transcends companies, geographies, and workloads – and there’s no simple solution.”

Colocation America

The technology infrastructure required to support these systems is immense. A large data centre can use more power than a small town. Sadly this way outstrips the capacity delivered by renewable energy. It’s a big issue that’s rarely reported because it’s to a large extent invisible.

It’s not all bad news.

Amazemeet aren’t alone trying to fix this. The hidden cost of crappy meetings is starting to be understood by a host of organisations for whom productivity is vitally important and meetings are squarely in their radar. We’re doing our bit because we know we have to have meetings, we want to make the unavoidable ones great and cut out the unproductive ones where we can.

Let’s get back in control of our meetings

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