People in a meeting

Preserving Meeting Culture in the Workplace: 2021 Trends

Over the last couple of months, businesses have drastically increased the time they spend in meetings. The need for collaboration amidst a global pandemic has dramatically influenced this upsurge in meetings. While employees may grapple with Zoom fatigue, an increased number of sessions say a lot about a company's culture.

Frequent meetings provide an excellent opportunity to understand your team's dynamic. Your company's progress, value and culture depend mainly on how team members interact and treat each other. One-time actions often build up and escalate to influence a company's trajectory. Such behaviours and attitudes highlight how meetings can impact your organisation's culture.

Here's how you can monitor your meeting habits and use regular engagements to nurture a positive culture of purpose and achievement.

1. Clarify your meeting agenda

Without proper preparation, meeting time can be less engaging and effective. During the pandemic, companies have had to work around planning for meetings. Organisations no longer have the luxury of exploiting a reactive approach to meetings when problems arise.

Businesses can leverage these circumstances and adopt positive habits around meetings. First, you could encourage attendees to reflect more on strategic initiatives and tactical tasks during the session. Align your meetings to company goals to get the most of your engagements. Before the meeting, document and share knowledge effectively to encourage positive and clear engagements once you meet.

Also, work towards creating clear outcomes and next steps before closing a meeting. Review the agreed action items and assign everyone their follow-ups. During your next session, begin with a discussion on progress reports.

2. Encourage Inclusive Engagements

Ideal meetings allow everyone to air their views. Encouraging contributions from people with different experiences and perspectives helps companies create more refined products and deliver efficient services. Meetings can either nurture or suffocate valuable input depending on how you set them up.

For a start, send out meeting invitations based on involvement and knowledge rather than titles. During your meetings, encourage everyone to speak. Meeting organisers can ask questions that require participants to voice their opinions. Encourage discussions around differing opinions to build consensus on important company initiatives.

Meeting chairpersons should also ensure that strong employees don't dominate less forceful individuals during the meeting.

3. Foster Honest and Authentic Discussions

Status updates required during meetings can sometimes intimidate meeting contributors. Some team members can opt to remain silent about missed deadlines or stalling goals as they work to impress their bosses. Such corporate peer pressure can prevent your team from having honest discussions.

Evaluate your meetings to determine if all your status updates only conclude with positive feedback. Find out if you've had any bad news in the recent past. Such interrogations allow you to find an accurate picture of your meeting's authenticity. Failed projects and missed deadlines are excellent learning experiences if discussed openly. Your team members can also learn how to share shortcomings and make adjustments to their targets.

4. Encourage Active Engagements during Meetings

Companies have had to deal with late arrivals during remote meetings, turned off cameras, and failed presentations. Such issues often arise from a lack of focus or attention on the part of attendees. Taking steps to inform your team about meeting objectives and clarifying discussion points could help to keep participants active and minimise distractions.

Encourage attendees to commit attention and focus to your meeting from the beginning. Agree whether you'll have cameras on or off during your virtual sessions and keep everyone positively engaged during the meeting.

5. Make Positive Changes Progressively

Hosting productive meetings involves creating habits that facilitate the right conversations among your team members. Nurturing a positive discussion culture can help you enhance your achievements and improve your sense of purpose.

Assess your meetings and determine what works and areas that need improvement. Commit to change specific meeting habits and monitor progress over a stipulated time.

Remote work has helped improve business communication as the need for collaboration increases. Employees have had to adapt to digital resources for communication. As offices slowly reopen, businesses need to know how to keep up the good things that have been birthed during the pandemic.

Man on a Zoom meeting

The Value of Online Meetings

While adopting online meetings presented multiple challenges, organisations worked to resolve them to maintain communication. Online discussions have increased participation among employees while providing video recordings that allow absent members to catch up with the rest of the team.

Supporting such flexible methods of attendance was essential in creating open channels of communication. Regular virtual meetings have also helped teams to remain connected during the pandemic. Joining sessions is simple, and everyone can access the forum as long as they receive adequate prior information. Businesses also save on printed documents as they can share information online and grant access to anyone who needs to access the work.

The elder staff members, however, found it difficult to navigate online technology. Limited internet access for other employees was also another bottleneck for successful virtual engagements.

Face-to-face meetings are equally important for companies. Such sessions are known to ease understanding ideas and views while team members can better understand each other. Your team can also appreciate their roles in decision-making processes for the organisation. People also prefer the social contact that in-person meetings provide.

As the world eases back to normalcy, businesses can leverage physical meetings and make the most of informal engagements typical in such discussions.

Meeting room with red accented chairs, wooden desk and pastel pink walls in Nordic Light

Moving Back to the Office

Rather than completely doing away with virtual meetings when normalcy returns, organisations can adopt a hybrid approach that makes the most of both sessions. Employees can participate in critical decisions while giving their input without being physically present in the office. Virtual consultations also allow teams to source feedback from employees who are off duty.

Office designers can create multiple collaboration spaces and environments that enhance work flexibility. Heightened access to outside areas like natural settings and patios can also motivate teams and help them ease back to office settings.

Office culture is a result of a shared vision and values that are envisioned in how teams work. Maintaining this culture helps to align team objectives while giving employees the confidence to execute their duties. Moving forward, businesses can leverage their virtual work experiences to enhance business relationships and office culture.