How reducing meetings reduces stress

Published Jul. 10, 2020 by Andy Leverenz in Lifestyle

Reducing meetings reduces stress

Now more than ever teams are switching to remote work. This is by choice for some and by force for others thanks to the COVID19 pandemic happening right now.

There is a common myth that remote work requires more meetings to operate successfully. Because of this myth, teams and team leads assume meetings keep us more connected.

While sometimes meetings are just what we need, they have a habit of becoming too necessary in a fast-paced work environment. Certain meeting styles in particular are prone to "meet for the meeting's sake" quality which is often without agenda.

In the software space, those styles of meetings might include daily stand-ups, milestone check-ins, sprint planning meetings, and so much more. These are great for keeping a consistent status feed of where a project is at versus where it is headed. What teams take for granted is that most of these meetings can be replaced for a more asynchronous style of status update.

Through writing or recorded media like video or audio, a team member can cast their updates to the entire team when they want to. There is no gap in their day where they are required for facetime in a video meeting or phone call. Team members get their time back and have fewer context shifts in a given day. This allows for more focus and deep work.

Meetings are a mind, time, and energy suck

When a meeting is scheduled it often involves syncing an entire team's calendar and scheduling an event. Everyone invited is expected to arrive promptly on the date of the event as well as within the timeframe scheduled. The problem with this is the time before, during, and after the meeting multiplied by the number of meetings you have.

Imagine you have an hour-long meeting on your calendar today. It's easy to say that the meeting should only take an hour but what it actually takes is around 3 hours of your time.

If you take a step back and look at a meeting you had in the past you might notice there is a build-up phase and a cool-down phase before and after a meeting.

Your mind needs to be mentally prepared for the meeting before it begins so you switch gears and focus on whats to come. During the meeting, you're in the mindset of the meeting assuming it requires your full attention (most meetings don't).

Following the meeting, you need to be able to shift your mindset on to other tasks you still need to complete before the day ends.

This all comes with a lot of cognitive load on your mind and less productivity as a result. You are left scrambling to play catch up while the time left in your workday is running out. These effects often make some employees work longer hours and suffer from burnout.

Factor about 3 hours per meeting times the number of people attending and you start to understand how teams can't seem to make meaningful progress. The more meetings you have the more this issue compounds.

What's the solution?

Write more. Meet less.

Meetings create unnecessary stress, distraction, and gaps in invaluable work time. Instead of a meeting, consider writing. Through writing, we get the benefits of being asynchronous which means you can contribute to the discussion at any time. Where and how you write is up to your team but we built Compose with this concept in mind.

Through writing, teams can communicate in a more thoughtful way that's less taxing on each member's workday. Losing the expectations to get a response immediately like video calls, chat tools, phone calls, and more reduces the cognitive load and stress mentioned before.

All of this is to say, sometimes meetings are essential to communicating something hard to describe with writing. Tough problems, topics, and solutions are sometimes better communicated synchronously but we feel making meetings the primary form of team communication is a very destructive habit.

Takeaways

Because remote teams are more distributed these days, writing plays a crucial role. When one team member is asleep the other can continue work and communicate through writing as opposed to jumping on a call. Productivity increases, stress is reduced, time is saved, and teams can press on doing what they do best.

We built Compose as a means to communicate in a fully asynchronous way. We are tired of the meetings, distractions, endless notifications, and unnecessary context shifts that are the acceptable norms of today. If your team would like to give Compose a try, enjoy a 14-day free trial on us.