How to Rethink Meetings for Remote Work

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For the one-quarter of American workers who can do their jobs from home, we've taken everything we possibly can about the office and made it go virtual. That goes for everything from serendipitous meetings with your colleagues to your boss looking over your shoulder. One thing that hasn't changed much, however, is meetings — only if possible, they may have gotten even worse.

Anecdotally, knowledge workers are reporting that Zoom meetings are now eating up the vast majority of their day (which, it turns out, really is getting longer in remote workplaces). We already know that meetings are a huge drain on productivity and morale; when even your interruptions can't get interrupted, things are really getting bad. Now, thanks to a multinational survey completed by Slack, we can also see that attending meetings is terrible for employee cohesion.

According to Slack's findings, "workers who attend weekly status meetings actually feel worse about their sense of belonging than workers who receive status updates asynchronously through digital channels," said Slack vice president Brian Elliott. In a distributed office, that's bad news on top of bad news. Luckily, both Slack and loads of other researchers have some useful ideas for making meetings meaningful for all participants.

That said, it does seem like the first order of business should be that if a meeting can be an email, it should be an email. Meanwhile, if you're feeling pressed for time, it's actually better for you and your employer to maintain boundaries on your hours. If now is the time to radically rethink the nature of work, we might as well all go for broke.