It’s too easy to get into the habit of holding lots of meetings when we all work in the same place. Our calendars rapidly fill up with back-to-back meetings and we are rushing from one meeting room to another. Now all that has changed.

We can still hold virtual meetings whilst working from home and we are now getting quite used to Zoom, Webex, Teams and all the other videoconferencing applications. But it has made us stop and think about the purpose of many of our regular meetings that we used to take for granted. What were they trying to achieve and is there another way of doing it?

Even if you have the video meeting facilities available and all your team have a good broadband connection from home, it may still not be a simple case of converting the old face-to-face meetings into virtual ones. People will still have to be available at the same time and this may not work in lockdown where there are other distractions in the home.

Meetings that are mainly for sharing information can be replaced by newsletters, bulletins, intranets, blogs and a whole variety of text-based tools such as WhatsApp. It’s also interesting to see how arguments can be developed and decisions made over a series of emails instead of over a conference table where the person with the most forceful personality may dominate the discussion.

Often meetings are used to create deadlines. Reports are written, presentations prepared and actions taken because they are due by the next meeting. With remote working, managers are having to create deadlines for work and agree outcomes with their staff. As they learn how to manage by output, managers are finding their meetings are replaced by goal-setting and progress reviews.