Remote Meetings Are Getting Shorter, and Four More Surprising Finds

New research has shown that we're having more remote meetings, but they're not taking as long.

With the meteoric rise in remote working in the past few years, it may be no surprise that new research has shown that we're having more remote meetings than ever before.

The study, from the Harvard Business Review, shows that remote meetings are now more frequent, as well as shorter. They're also, as it  turns out, essential.

The study details five ways that remote meetings have changed since the start of the pandemic, thanks to services such as Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.

Remote Meetings Research Findings

The research, carried out by the Harvard Business Review, compared six-week snapshots of meetings from April to May 2020, during Covid lockdowns, with the same periods in 2021, and 2022. It collected data from Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex, resulting in 48 million meetings for over half a million employees.

1. Remote meetings are more frequent than ever

The research found that employees in 2022 were having 60% more remote meetings than they were in 2020. An average of around five per week in 2020, up to eight in 2022.

2. Remote meetings are shorter

If you're horrified by the fact that you're having more meetings now, then good news, they don't last as long. Meetings have decreased in length on average by 25%, from 43 minutes in 2020 to 33 minutes in 2022. Perhaps a sign that we're getting more used to the tech, and no longer fumbling to finish a Zoom call in a natural way.

3. Remote meetings have become smaller

It seems that fewer people are getting invited to remote meetings these days. Between 2020 and 2022, the average number of attendees has halved from 20 to 10. In 2020, just 17% of meetings were one-on-one. In 2022, it was 42%.

4. Remote meetings are more spontaneous 

In 2020, just 17% of meetings were unplanned. In 2022 however, that number has jumped to 66%, showing signs that we're more accustomed to using virtual meetings in a more casual way.

5. Company leavers have fewer meetings

The study found that those who left the organisation during the six week windows had significantly fewer meetings than their colleagues, including a huge 67% fewer spontaneous meetings.

Advice for Successful Remote Meetings

From these enlightening revelations about the state of remote meetings in 2022, the Harvard Business Review has made some recommendations on how to get the most out of remote meetings.

One suggestion is that employees should try to be synchronous with their co-workers, matching working patterns where possible. Even where teams are working in different time zones, efforts should be made to ensure that there is some overlap. This allows for more natural interactions throughout the working day, and studies have shown that it can drastically increase the quality of work.

Another suggestion is to make it easier for co-workers to interact, removing boundaries and addressing ‘Zoom fatigue'. This could be as simple as telling staff that they don't need to have their cameras on, encouraging audio only meetings as an alternative.

Another point made by the research is that employees that are less engaged are attending fewer meetings. The solution isn't to force them to attend as many meetings as possible, but to hold discussions with them about the reasons why they have become less engaged, and then work with them on these issues. Meetings are important for knowledge sharing, social interactions and team building, so if an employee is skipping them, it could be a sign that they are checking out.

The Best Web Conferencing Tools

There is no doubt that the move to remote meetings was severely accelerated by the pandemic, through necessity more than choice. It's now a daily part of most workers lives, and we've all become fairly comfortable with it.

The tools have improved significantly too, even in the past two years. When Zoom was pushed into the limelight back in Spring 2020, it was a fairly barebones web conferencing platform, lacking even the most basic security features. Now it's a fully featured software that hosts a wide range of features. Similarly, tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have continued to proactively listen to customers and improved their offerings, adding everything from accessibility features to team building games.

As the competition in the web conferencing space has heated up, it's spurred the providers to try and out do each other, which is great news for the customers. We've reviewed the main web conferencing platforms, and can tell you which one would work best for your business.

Written by:

Jack is the Deputy Editor for Tech.co. He has over 15 years experience in publishing, having covered both consumer and business technology extensively, including both in print and online. Jack has also led on investigations on topical tech issues, from privacy to price gouging. He has a strong background in research-based content, working with organisations globally, and has also been a member of government advisory committees on tech matters.

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