Improving Virtual Teamwork: Meetings Matter

In a hybrid work environment, the time your teams spend together is more critical than ever before. Instead of building a culture of less time together, build one of better time together.
January 11, 2023
Ben Parkison

We’ve unpacked the fact that team culture is something that must be allowed to exist and be cultivated in all team interactions. We’ve discussed how team meetings have always lacked purpose-built solutions to provide structure and continuity, and that this has only become a bigger problem in virtual and remote work environments.

There’s a subtext here that we want to get into this week: In a virtual and hybrid working environment - which is the situation 54 million US workers find themselves in today - meetings matter. In fact, meetings are now the forum in which companies will succeed or fail, develop any degree of longevity, and make themselves exceptional.

At this moment, that might seem a little antithetical to what we see in the news. Shopify cleared all meetings off of their calendars for 2023. We hear CEOs extolling the value of eliminating company-wide meetings, or putting hard limits on the amount of time allowed to spend in meetings. We have “Zoom fatigue.”

Don’t get me wrong. These are all reasonable strategies given the situation we find ourselves in. But let’s make sure we’re learning the right lessons. Team meetings, or more broadly any time a team spends together, is not the problem. And further, burning all meetings to the ground in the service of “productivity-at-all-costs” will eventually burn down your company.

We’ve reactively tried to cram everything we previously did in person into a fairly standard and limited tool: A leader led, agenda-driven meeting, with minimal support for collaboration, continuity, and creativity. So the number of meetings has ballooned as we try to solve all problems with that single hammer. Does this mean we find ourselves with an excess of poorly run and ineffectual meetings? Yes.

But the time your teams spend together in hybrid and virtual meetings is now the only method we have to do everything we previously did in person. Team meetings are not the enemy - they are the battleground for the success or failure of the company. This is where the concept of a company as more than a sum of individual contributors exists. The space within the variety of team meetings, day after day – in ways big and small – will be the success or failure of a company.

If you’re not taking team meetings seriously, that is the cost. And mindlessly cutting meetings only creates new problems. The time your teams spend together is where your company exists now. It’s far past time to nurture, support, and create the conditions for this critical function to thrive.

The time your teams spend together is where your company exists now.

The CEO and the senior leadership team is not who is responsible here. It’s your managers. This group of leaders already play a critical role in the company, but are so often underinvested in. Now they have an even greater role to play in the success or failure of the company.

A new level of support and investment is needed for managers and the teams they lead. General purpose tools like wikis and document sharing tools are simply not enough. 

The agenda shared ahead in your Outlook meeting notice is nice, but it only scratches the surface of what that team needs to thrive

This is what we’re building at Trelliswork. The purpose-built tool for managers and their teams to be intentional about their time together. A tool that can service the variety of ways a team comes together - formal and informal, task driven and creative, collaborative and informative. A tool that creates a space that mirrors all of the ways that we come together, and allows for teams to be more productive, to intentionally develop and maintain team culture, and to ensure teams can harness the variety of voices and opinions across their members.

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