Almost 1 in 5 Singapore professionals waste between 6 and 10 minutes setting up each meeting, because of lack of clarity over conference technology or issues with bandwidth and the Internet, reveals findings from ShoreTel’s ‘Build a Better Meeting’ survey.
Canvassing the meeting habits and productivity preferences of nearly 500 respondents across Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, the survey found that Singaporeans spend the least time in meetings each month, since they generally have good practices around those meetings with 45 percent citing, they prepare an agenda in advance.
The majority (83 percent), spend under nine hours per month in meetings, and of these, most spend less than four hours. This limited time means each meeting is a crucial time for information exchange and collaboration.
However, regardless of the best practices implemented by many, another 43 percent say they only prepare an agenda on occasion. Additionally, a third of respondents admit to doing other work in meetings, and around 1 in 10 workers acknowledge not participating at all. As a result, 1 in 5 said their meetings are only slightly productive or not productive at all.
“Singapore’s workforce does not spend the majority of their time in meetings, so these opportunities for collaboration are highly valuable to their organisations,” said Frédéric Gillant, vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific for ShoreTel. “Despite many workers setting agendas and claiming to fully participate in meetings, there are clearly some issues to address in making sure technology enables effective meetings rather than inhibits them.”
Increasingly mobile work styles will require organizations to adjust
The research indicates that over half of Singapore workers do not work remotely on a regular basis. However, a third of the workforce does spend 1 to 7 days per month working remotely, which results in a clear need for organisations to ensure that all workers are able to hold efficient meetings regardless of their location.
“Singapore organisations need to reconsider how they are facilitating working practices,” Gillant adds. “If employees are outside the office or find meeting practices inefficient, measures should be put in place to ensure that remote collaboration is a viable option. Too often, the technology is too hard to use or people are not familiar with it, which causes meeting delays and hurts overall productivity.”
See: HR Inspirations: How to Avoid Pointless Meetings
While communication technologies are transforming the workplace and the ways in which we interact with each other, Gillant notes that, not every solution is simple to implement or easy for people to use. What’s more, trying to use a host of standalone communication tools presents additional problems for IT teams and users.
“A good unified communications system takes all the best features of each technology – IP phones, conferencing, video, digital document sharing, chat and mobility – and combines them in a single solution that enables individuals to collaborate seamlessly wherever they are and using whichever channel is the most convenient and effective,” said Gillant. “This makes meetings easier to set up and virtual interactions more natural, which increases productivity and greatly streamlines workflows.”
Despite a focus on technology, there is also a need for cultural shift within organisations to drive efficiencies. With 43 percent of the workforce that do not consistently prepare agendas and the 41 percent that multitasks on calls – including checking personal messages or social media, whilst in a meeting, organisations should put measures in place to improve meeting practices.
“Meetings without an agenda are like road trips without GPS or a map – unless you are very lucky, you are going to spend ages going in circles and never get anywhere,” added Gillant.
According to Gillant, laying out an agenda and distributing it ahead of time, is an easy way to boost meeting productivity. Even more effective is to use productivity tools, such as agenda planners, which are built into leading unified communications (UC) solutions. Agendas don’t need to be long, but they should outline the topics to be covered, the anticipated goals, required attendees, any materials needed, and a start and stop time.
“There are plenty of opportunities for companies to eliminate meeting inefficiencies, such as avoiding long meetings where people are prone to lose interest and discouraging distractions, that take people away from the task at hand,” Gillant suggests.
“Easy, modern unified communications technology and thoughtful meeting preparation are the keys to building better, more productive meetings that all attendees will find valuable.”
Feature image credit: Freepik
Also read: How Do You Make Meetings Work for Your Business?