New Verizon study says focus on meeting less to accomplish more

Tami Erwin, Chief Executive Officer of Verizon Business

Companies rethinking their operations and almost every aspect of their business due to the pandemic is not new. What is noteworthy is seeing how businesses are leveraging lessons learned to innovate and improve their operations to meet customer and employee demands.

In a new white paper published this week with Boston Consulting Group, Verizon Business CEO, Tami Erwin, and Verizon Business CRO, Sampath Sowmyanarayan, break down how something as simple as altering the way meetings are conducted can impact productivity, while providing insight, tips, and best practices from an extensive in-house experiment.

“Every leader today needs to reimagine the path forward for their business in a hybrid world. Verizon Business and BCG partnered to share concrete learnings that enable greater flexibility, connection, and collaboration,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business.

“We know it takes the right technology infrastructure, security, and solutions, along with the right training and resources, to ensure businesses effectively navigate new ways of working.”

How can companies improve the impact of meetings?

For firms, the quick shift to a remote or distributed working model was an initial shock to the system, but now can be viewed as an opportunity to shape how employees adopt and adapt to new collaboration tools and processes. To make a meaningful impact, it’s not wholesale changes that win the day, it’s simple actions that make the biggest difference, such as:

  1. Adopt simple, impactful practices to improve meetings:
  • Schedule 25- or 50-minute meetings with a 5–10-minute lagged start time
  • Clearly state the meeting’s purpose and agenda on the meeting invitation
  • Reassess the need for regular recurring meetings

2. Identify and challenge the need for meetings that can be replaced by asynchronous modes of work, i.e., email, chat, shared documents, or offline review.

Do Verizon’s simple actions work?

For one month, Verizon Business analysed the meeting habits of a team of roughly 150 employees, where they tracked the success of various changes to meetings. The experimental practices were devised in collaboration with the team, recognising the value of designing new ways from within and not simply imposing them from the outside.

Throughout the month, daily and weekly surveys were sent to participants for continuous feedback, enabling the real-time evolution of processes and practices. The results were overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating the impact small changes can drive:

  • 90% of the survey participants said that the new ways of managing meetings helped improve overall meeting effectiveness
  • 83% of the survey participants said they feel more comfortable working through asynchronous modes, such as email, collaboration tools, and shared documents
  • 78% of the survey participants said they feel like they are wasting less time sitting in meetings where their live participation isn’t required

How can firms increase efficiency in a workplace?

The 4-step process to identifying and supporting actions to change how work gets done.

  1. Walk the talk: Secure support from a respected leader from the start.
  2. Design from within: Understand pain points and arrive at best practices from within the teams that you are targeting for change. Make it their idea.
  3. Make it easy: Create and re-create supporting tools to drive implementation and measure success. Ensure you have the right technology and solution infrastructure in place to accomplish effective hybrid communications plans.
  4. Iterate as you go: Create regular and frequent feedback cycles to support the continued adaptation of new meeting modes and supporting tools.

The next step is to scale. As noted in Step 3, making the process simple and easy to recreate sets the stage for broad expansion across the firm. The experiment conducted by Verizon can be implemented by any business. Verizon Business has the solutions, expertise, and network technology to help businesses forge their own unique path toward transformation.

From reworking their cybersecurity architecture or implementing the solutions to harness the power of 5G to simply adjusting their approach to meetings, Verizon has businesses covered.

The pandemic forced the hand of many business leaders to alter their operations but it has opened the doors to take advantage of new ways of working. Making small adjustments like changing bad meeting habits can help employees meet less and accomplish more.