Pre-pandemic, daily in-person meetings were a normal, albeit annoying, part of in-office work. After the onset of the pandemic, many companies moved to remote work environments, and those meetings became daily emails instead. Many employees vocalized approval of this change, saying that they now had time to work on other tasks and have more of a balanced workday.
But now that many companies are pushing back to in-person work, some companies are trying to keep their no-meeting policies – choosing to continue limiting the number of unnecessary meetings to free up their employees’ time.
Shopify, for example, has told employees that it is enacting a “calendar purge,” which involves wiping all recurring meetings with more than two people “in perpetuity.” They’re deleting nearly 10,000 events from employees’ calendars, clearing around 76,500 hours. Companies like Meta, Clorox, and Twilio have also reduced excessive meetings.
Do No-Meeting Policies Improve Productivity?
While it may seem counterintuitive to reduce the number of meetings you have with your employees, reducing non-essential meetings can increase employee productivity and work-life balance.
Some companies overschedule meetings, having far too many scheduled during the day, limiting the amount of work employees can do between the meetings. Their intentions are good–they’re looking to increase employee connection, have frequent check-ins to know precisely what tasks are being done and what tasks need to be improved on, and foster the workplace community. Unfortunately, having “check-in meetings” that have little to no productive purpose is counterproductive because they take time away from the employees to either work on actual tasks or take a break so they can be more effective on later assignments. Forcing these meetings doesn’t increase productivity; filling your employees’ calendars with various meetings does the opposite.
Companies should set their employees up for success and trust that they can work autonomously and with others at their own pace. Giving employees more control over their time makes them more careful about implementing a productive work schedule.
How To Implement a No-Meeting Policy
First, try to remove any meetings that aren’t essential. What is the purpose of the meeting? If it’s just to inform employees about a new policy or program, you could format the information into an email and then have an open channel for further questions. Is the meeting a daily check-in? Ask those team members if they feel the daily check-in is necessary and valuable. If not, it’s probably best to let the employees manage their own time and tasks and have ways to check in and communicate with their project managers if necessary.
Once you’ve narrowed down the necessary meetings, look at who needs to be in those meetings. If you have a discussion about a specific project but require other team members to be in that meeting who aren’t involved, you’re wasting those team members’ time that could be spent elsewhere.
Companies’ most significant argument against a no-meeting policy is that it negatively affects company culture. But culture isn’t determined solely by meetings – there are many ways to create an environment that fosters creativity, community, and culture in the workplace. Communicate to your employees openly about policies, and promote engagement activities. Surveying employees to see their interests is a great way to include your employees in fostering the culture.
Implementing no-meeting policies doesn’t mean your employees will completely ghost their jobs or won’t be as productive – it means the opposite. You’ll find that your employees will continue to be social, form communities, and manage their time wisely. That said, communicating with your employees and tracking and surveying employee satisfaction after implementing the policy is incredibly important to maintaining workplace standards.