Many managers complain to me that their schedules are full of meetings and they never get time to think. By the time that have caught up on their daily deluge of emails, they certainly don’t have time for reflection or thinking up new ideas. It’s one long day of back to back meetings and some long evenings and weekends catching up on email. Add to that the time wasted on travelling to meetings and it’s clear we need to look at alternatives. It’s just a shame that most managers are too busy rushing between meetings to stop and question why they are doing this.

In many cases it’s because that’s the way things have always been done. If we don’t know what to do, let’s call a meeting. If we want to keep in touch, let’s have a meeting. If we want to negotiate a deal, interview someone, have a brainstorming session or discuss the latest business plan, let’s get together somewhere. If that’s meeting with someone who works the same building it may not be to big problem, but it’s someone on another continent we may need to take three days out of our schedule to have an hour’s meeting.

Recent research from Malmo University in Sweden showed that the growth of managerial and strategy jobs in business have fuelled a rise in the number of meetings even though they achieved little. Organising meetings is a way for managers to show they are actually doing something, particularly if they are not sure what their role really is.

We now have technology that allows people to meet ‘face-to-face’ without having to be in the same place. Skype and Zoom are two popular ways of having a a ‘meeting’ without having to travel. It may not be quite as good as the real thing but they could happily replace 70-80% of regular meetings with no ill effect and some massive savings in wasted time.

This week we are up to “V” in the WiseWork alphabet and we chose that to stand for “Virtual Teams”. That’s still the name we tend to give for groups of people who are geographically separated but still collaborate. Why not just call them “teams”? They probably collaborate more effectively than many co-located teams who spend hours in boring meetings and don’t have time to get the job done.