Do you really need to have a virtual meeting?

Kristi ShmyrBusiness and Technology Series

Virtual Meeting

One of the interesting realizations to come out of COVID-19 is how unnecessary some of our work practices were. For instance, it turns out that a lot of people can work from home; and pants are not always required (like, say to report the news). But now that having a meeting is easier than ever, there are some questions we need to be asking ourselves before we schedule a virtual meeting.

Is the virtual meeting necessary?

We have made many jokes about how this crisis has highlighted when meetings could have been emails, but I am not entirely sure everyone has learned the lesson. In fact, it appears as though meetings may have increased, given how easy it is to schedule one. The most important questions every business must ask before scheduling meetings is:

  • What is my objective in having this meeting?
  • Is a scheduled meeting the most efficient way to meet this objective?
  • Is the information time sensitive, or can I combine objectives into one meeting?

Does it require video?

The popularity of video conferencing software has made it the default position for most meetings, but that layer can add extra stress. Yes, there are backgrounds you can use to hide your mess, but not everyone wants to learn the intricacies of the software and will feel obligated to tidy up or (gasp) wear pants. Even if those stressors aren’t relevant, not all people want to welcome their bosses into their home. If you don’t have visual presentations that you want everyone to be able to see at the same time, or you don’t need to see people’s faces to do your work, a phone call might work just as well.

Does everyone have equal access?

It can be hard to imagine that not all people are having the same experience of this crisis as you are; but imagine it we must. Not everyone has reliable internet access, or a computer, making virtual meetings more of a challenge. Many people are being asked to do their job while also homeschooling and childrearing, or taking care of a sick loved one, and do not have the same flexibility of time as others. It is important to consider that for many people, working from home has made their life busier. When you are contemplating a meeting, and have determined it is indeed necessary, consider schedules and access as well. Communicate regularly with your team to make sure everyone has what they need to do what you expect and be as considerate as possible about scheduling needs.

Virtual meetings have helped many businesses and their workers continue functioning in this uncertain time, and that is a wonderful thing. But just because there is some amazing tech available to make our lives easier doesn’t mean that it always does make our lives easier. Just because you can schedule a virtual meeting with ease, doesn’t mean you should.