Published: February 23, 2021
How We’re Changing Our Meeting Culture
The COVID-19 pandemic marked several changes for work-life at Apotex. For many of our employees, this was their first time working remotely. As such, we noticed a concerning trend: a 13% increase spent in meetings outside of scheduled work hours in addition to a 24% increase in meeting length with more invitees. Together, these facts – more meetings, longer meetings, more attendees – began leading to meeting fatigue and overbooking.
We developed five fixes to adjust our meeting mindset across the organization to support our employee’s work-life balance and overall well-being:
- Meetings are important but not always necessary. We encourage a MS Teams chat, a phone call, email or text message in place of a meeting when possible.
- No Meeting Zone. “Block Outs” were placed on calendars before 8AM, after 5PM, lunch hour and Friday’s between 3-5PM to allow for critical thinking and planning time.
- Mandatory Attendees Only. Too many voices can cause confusion, may leave important dialogue unheard, and hinder productive meetings that must be focused on decision-making – limit the number of participants to key stakeholders.
- Schedule it Right. Instead of defaulting to the commonly used 60 minutes, start with 30 minutes or even 15 and have a goal to end 5 minutes early.
- Meeting Purpose and Protocol. Create and share a focused agenda to keep the meeting on track.
In addition to these guidelines, we provided resources and educational sessions around holding effective virtual meetings to ensure efficient, productive meetings as well as an overall positive employee experience.
This initiative, launched in October 2020, has started to make a mark on employees. We surveyed a select group of employees and found 77% have seen an increase in instant messaging for quick conversations instead of booking meetings.
While we are proud to be moving the needle, we are excited for all that is to come as we continue our journey to adjust our meeting mindset across the organization.