Okay, realistically we are not going to stop having meetings. But, should you have specifically designated time blocks that are meeting free? Multiple surveys and research results would say yes, that your team’s productivity, among other things, is significantly improved when at least one day a week is designated as meeting free.
A research article published in MIT Sloan just last year, surveyed 76 companies around the world and determined that at least one meeting free day per week resulted in more autonomy in their teams, better communication and higher job satisfaction. Many studies have presented that employees will feel less micromanaged and less stressed when they have at least one meeting free day per week.
In an article posted by Zapier, a software company centered around efficiency, the company published their own internal results from their team’s attempt at a no-meeting week. Their staff was encouraged to reschedule all internal meetings and only communicate via the company’s internal messaging system if something was needed. The team reported that at the end of the week 80% of them had achieved their work goals for the week and still cited communication as being effective.
The results obviously support that no-meeting time provides an all around benefit. But how do you employ it, especially in a small firm?
Starting with just one day a week is an easier lift. This is beneficial even for solo-preneurs to do for themselves and not just to benefit a team. One of the biggest challenges of smaller firms is wearing all the hats. You have to be the marketing person, the customer service person, the work doing person and all at the same time.
It is easy to get burnt out and not necessarily realize where you’re being efficient. Realistically though, you’re not productively completing work if your day is constantly interrupted for the next meeting.
Many studies have presented that employees will feel less micromanaged and less stressed when they have at least one meeting free day per week.
Personally, I like to designate Fridays as no meeting days. When I first started building this into my calendar Friday was already the day of the week that the fewest people booked meetings with me to begin with. I started with the first Friday on my calendar that was completely free and just blocked them off from there so no one could schedule into one of them.
Another day of the week might work better for your practice but I always appreciated the quiet time at the end of the week to feel like I could actually wrap up pertinent projects and not go into the weekend stressed about work.
In addition to no-meetings days, I have also found it beneficial for firms to have “no communication” blocks at least once a day. Before or after lunch is a great block. This is at least an hour or two during the day where your team has permission to close down any instant messaging systems and/or email. It is meant to serve as an uninterrupted block for work completion giving everyone permission to not stop what you’re working on and immediately answer the most recent slack message.
Training your team to manage their time in these ways is going to undoubtedly lead to increased productivity. Our increase in constant connection and communication through our phones, social media and technology has programmed us to respond to everything immediately, but it does not support us in efficiently completing work, especially technical work.