It's time to get rid of recurring meetings

Remote team meetings should be spontaneous and social

Many remote teams, including ours, are shifting away from back-to-back meetings and towards a "total async" workflow. We complete projects without meetings, make decisions without meetings, and share life updates without meetings.

The thing is, team meetings are often created as "set it and forget it" events. They pop up on the calendar, you sign in to Zoom, and then an hour is gone.

If you're using meetings for the following recurring objectives, you might want to rethink your approach:

  • Standups - "What are we working on today?"
  • Reporting - "How did last week's numbers measure up to our KPIs?"
  • Announcements and updates - "We hit 1M newsletter subscribers!"

All of these "accountability" meetings are actually best when translated into writing - so that your team has a record of activity, progress, wins, and losses. It's also easier to digest this kind of info in writing, rather than trying to listen to everyone as they go around in a circle.

But meetings are good for a few things.

Meetings to keep:

  • Hiring - Meeting in person is the only way to determine if a candidate is a good fit.
  • Brainstorming - It's often faster to discuss, ask questions, and come up with a plan together versus solo.
  • Live work sessions - Unblock, get feedback, answer questions, and motivate your teammates to make progress
  • Social bonding - Of course, in-person meetings and offsites are best for this, but 1:1 donut chats, or group activities like cooking classes or trivia, work in a pinch.
  • Manager check-ins - Managers and their direct reports have close relationships that require a lot of trust. Frequent meetings, especially at the start of an employee's tenure, cement that trust.

As much as we advocate for asynchronous workflows, "total async" actually isn't good for anyone. Entropy takes over, teams devolve into silos, people feel disconnected from each other. But intentional meetings, as opposed to automated ones, will energize your team and give them something to look forward to, rather than check off the to-do list. Don't forget to keep everyone on track with meeting minutes.

Free up your calendar

  • Standups - Global teams start their days at different times. It doesn't make sense for someone to explain their plan for the day when it's already afternoon. Let standups be asynchronous. And if you have several senior contributors in a team, consider doing away with standups altogether.
  • Reporting - Transparency in reporting metrics is one thing most remote teams agree on. So why bury that key info in a meeting? Share it in writing with the whole team, as soon as the data is available. Then, store your reports in a database so that reports can be compared and understood in context.
  • Announcements and updates - Why wait to share good news? Putting announcements about product roadmap, bug fixes, new hires, new publications, and other exciting updates in a public channel will keep a running record of achievements and show your team's progress over time.

Here are a few tips to make meetings more intentional:

  1. Replace live meetings with written discussions and decisions (Hey, we have a tool for that!)
  2. Create databases of reporting documents for weekly and monthly statistics, sorted by department
  3. Create an #announcements channel in your chat tool for live updates on launches, bug fixes, promotions and other achievements.

There are additional, unseen benefits to changing up your meeting plans. First of all, you'll have a written record of all important decisions, alongside discussions and progress reports. It's a transparent way to build knowledge in a team. And most importantly, when you create space for spontaneous meetings, your conversations will feel less effortful and tied to a sense of obligation. Friendly calls that can last as short or as long as you want - isn't that the flexibility we all dream about?

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