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The new rules for meetings in a hybrid work force

June 2, 2021, 4:16 PM UTC
Worksheet-Meetings Toll on Workers
More than two-thirds of workers say meetings keep them from being productive.
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Welcome to Worksheet, a newsletter about how people are working smarter in these turbulent times.

In this week’s edition, S. Mitra Kalita looks at how more than a year into the pandemic, the way we hold meetings has got to change.


The pandemic exposed some terrible workplace habits. Chief among them: our dependence on meetings.

More than two-thirds of workers complain that meetings keep them from being productive. And more than a third say they spend 2 to 5 hours per day on calls and meetings—with little to show for it. 

“They’ve been stuck in react mode playing whack-a-mole each day,” wrote Khe Hy last week in his RadReads blog that covers the intersection of work and productivity, among other topics. The toll on workers, he said, is “feeling like a prisoner to your calendar—jumping from meeting to meeting with no time to think” and suffering from “mindlessly context-switching because you’re not sure what you should be focusing on.”

A survey conducted in April and May found a third of respondents thinking “this meeting could have been an email” all or most of the time. More than a year into the pandemic, many still struggle with technical issues (41 percent).  

Three key areas emerge as ways we can fix meetings right away: official rules and policies on when to have them and for how long, new tools favoring asynchronous work, and better training among managers to make meetings more conducive to creativity and brainstorming. 


Kalita goes on to write how a hybrid work force has created new standards for meetings, which companies are now shaping with official rules and policies.

Read her full column here.

Wondering what else the future of work holds? Visit Fortune‘s Smarter Working hub presented by Future Forum by Slack.

This week's reads

Employees first

Don't open your office without thinking about the toll on your workers. (Fast Company)

Unmute, new hire

How to onboard new employees in remote or hybrid workplaces.

Shut out

Black businesses were among those least likely to be approved for the paycheck protection program. (The Plug)

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