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4 Alternatives to Meetings Entrepreneurs Should Embrace in 2023 to Win Back Their Time "This meeting could've been an email" is now more applicable than ever before as the number of meetings keeps increasing, only to reduce progress and take away valuable working hours from employees. It's time entrepreneurs embrace alternatives to traditional meetings in their businesses this year.

By Pierre Raymond Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There is perhaps one thing all employees will collectively agree on: Meetings steal time, and a lot of it at once, too.

The average number of meetings held every week has been steadily climbing, and that's no surprise in today's hustle culture work environment. A survey conducted by Dialpad of more than 2,800 working professionals found that around 83% of them spend between four and 12 hours per calendar week attending meetings.

On average, employees end up spending 30% of their workweek attending meetings, and in some cases, these sessions are nothing but wasted hours that could've been used more productively.

Meetings are not only taking a toll on employees but on the economy as well.

The burden of meetings in the workplace is not only costing employees, and their employers valuable time, but it's also costing the economy billions each year. One study predicts that unproductive meetings cost the economy around $37 billion annually.

Amid the pandemic, teams quickly managed to navigate the virtual office with video conferencing platforms to help them effectively communicate and link with their fellow team members. Although this presented a temporary solution for the time, the aftermath has seen employees now complaining of video fatigue, unorganized meetings, limited digital features and a lack of work-life privacy for those employees working from home.

It's often hard to say whether meetings can be productive or not, yet in the same breath, depending on the need or requirements of the company, most meetings end up becoming catch-up sessions for employees, leading to valuable hours being lost and team members being held back.

Instead of deep diving into the pros and cons of meetings, it's time to take a look at some of the alternatives to meetings that entrepreneurs can embrace in the new year. Though the transition might be hard at first, it's often better to stay ahead of the curve than to continuously implement outdated practices that no longer serve the good of the company and its employees.

Related: You Might Reconsider That Team Meeting When You Find Out How Much it Really Costs

1. Embrace digital collaboration tools

With the rise of technology in the workplace, whether it's onsite or remote, it's time that entrepreneurs embrace collaboration tools that help to establish more transparency and team assessment.

Using digital collaboration tools will not only help streamline communication and brainstorming sessions, but it can help keep employees accountable with team reports and provide entrepreneurs with more transparency in terms of the reflected reports. Additionally, it's possible to set near and long-term goals, making it easier for employees to track their progress, and define their productivity.

It's better to have a shared objective among employees, to ensure that every person is on the same page and that there is clear guidance going forward. This not only helps employees make better use of their time but also helps them work more effectively in teams towards a company goal.

Digital collaboration can help to break down teams as well, making it easier for like-minded employees to discuss work-related topics, spark creativity among each other and boost employee communication efforts among each other.

2. Make better use of email

Yes, that meeting you scheduled could've been an email, and it's a shared opinion among many employees these days. Instead of having employees attend meetings that might have nothing to do with their work, try and send out a team email that contains the most important information you want to share.

For decades we've been using emails to communicate with clients, businesses and other colleagues, and most of the time we've managed to get the right message across.

It's important to make use of emails more sparingly instead of filling up employee inboxes with hundreds of unnecessary and unimportant emails every day. Make sure to send out one or two emails every day, perhaps one in the morning and one at the end of the workday to make sure all employees are on board for the next day.

Emails work just as well as regular meetings, especially for the smaller and less important information sessions that don't necessarily require an entire team to attend.

Related: Got Too Many Meetings? Here's How to Cut Back

3. Send a recorded video

Another alternative could be to send a recorded video to employees. This is perhaps more suitable for situations where a walk-through of a new project or process needs to be discussed, or an explanation needs to be added to a specific point.

Video messages can be short yet informative and, in some ways, they can be a bit more personal than simply sending out a daily email or weekly roundup newsletter.

With video messages, it would require you to record on demand and cover as much information within the video snippet as possible. There is also the possibility that you might need to edit the video, which will require you to have access to video editing software.

Although this alternative might not be the most conventional, it's by far an easier and more time-efficient practice than having members join a conference call that requires a stable internet connection to maintain video quality throughout the call.

4. Initiate message threads

Often employees that work in an office or on-site will collaborate through a team management platform such as Slack, Nifty or Google Teams. These platforms allow for seamless communication between members and can easily be an avenue through which employees can share information and other important documents.

As an entrepreneur, it's easy to share a message or document via the platform that will help to initiate a thread that can get employees more involved. Keeping employees engaged means that everyone is clear about the message and those that have any queries can have their questions answered in real time.

It's perhaps best practice to initiate a thread once all employees are online or present and indicate when a thread has ended. This way employees will know when they are required to attend and whether relevant information will be shared among participants.

Related: Could Banning Meetings Be the Key to a Happier Workforce?

Final thoughts

It's not possible to completely cancel out the importance of meetings, whether in person or virtual. Today's employees often regard meetings as pointless and a waste of time, and instead of having this attitude manifest itself within your company and business, ensure that you seek out some alternatives to unproductive meetings.

The idea with meetings is to share valuable information between interested employees, but also ensure that all team members are on the same page regarding progress and any potential changes that might be ahead. Be sure to choose an alternative that suits the company and its employees, and better yet, make sure to implement a structure that encourages employee engagement and effectively communicates the message.

Pierre Raymond

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of OTOS

Pierre Raymond is a bilingual project consultant/business analyst with over 20 years of experience in financial services and data management IT solutions.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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