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20. september 2016  

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There’s no such thing as a one-hour meeting—unless there’s only one participant

By: Jennifer Adams, Head of Global Collaboration, Plantronics

Meetings are a fact of life for any business. It’s where teams unify vision, disseminate information, assess progress and so on. Ironically, really successful meetings result in more work for all parties, which leads of course to more meetings and so the cycle goes. Time then becomes one of the biggest investments your business can make. Our recent global survey reveals 37% of respondents spend 11-30 hours per week in meetings; with only 2% saying they aren’t in enough meetings.

Technology has allowed us to work remotely, effectively making any space an office space. Being mobile has its benefits but also presents unique challenges. It used to be that you’d walk into a room, sit down, start your meeting and that was that. Now, with 60% of people reporting at least one remote participant, the enabling technology also introduces risk to the ability for meetings to start on time and function perfectly throughout. Can everyone connect? Can people hear you? Can you hear them?  Putting aside for a moment the obvious checks that aren’t always in place, namely assessing the necessity of any given meeting, then ensuring appropriate agendas and follow-ups are sent out. Let’s assume every meeting is required. How do you ensure every minute counts?

Skype for Business is an enterprise platform that’s great for getting everyone into the meeting, which we use ourselves at Plantronics, and once a meeting starts that’s where our devices can really add value. You get high band audio so voice fidelity is optimal, they’re Plug and Play so the controls sync up with what’s happening on screen – be that answer, disconnect, mute, or volume. And we support any and all styles of working, whether that’s PC, laptop, or mobile device, you’ll get the same seamless integration.

A top complaint from virtual meeting participants is background noise, so mute is really important to everyone. Skype for Business shows who’s on mute so you can see where any noise is coming from, but mute also brings another bugbear that’s all too common, which is the “sorry I was on mute let me say that again” moment. We’ve set out to eliminate that. Our microphones listen for input, and if you’re on mute trigger an audio and visual alert. It’s this attention to detail that can really deliver a boost to productivity. I put some figures into our cost calculator for a weekly, 40-person meeting I used to attend, and it came back with an annual cost of $50,000. So it’s really clear how shaving off those few minutes of delay from every meeting can really add up.

Finally, there’s another finding from our survey I think worth mentioning because it talks to this ability to drive efficiency by pulling the smaller, sometimes overlooked levers. 62% of people admit to multi-tasking during meetings. Everything from back channelling via IM with other participants, to text messaging, browsing the internet, and even using the restroom, contributes to a lack of focus.

The addition of video and screen sharing can really help everyone be present and accountable. With the right end-to-end solutions in place, you can activate features like these that aren’t always top-of-mind when trying to improve efficiency. After all, adding to, rather than subtracting from, workflow processes seems counter-intuitive. The reality is when mobile, PC, tablet, audio, camera, and software all function seamlessly, your workforce can get into and out of meetings easier and quicker, while making every minute count.