Ways of working

Conference calls: how to achieve shorter, more productive meetings

50% of meetings is unproductive or a waste of time, according to research by Atlassian. That’s an average of 31 lost hours per month, many of which will have been spent on conference calls. It’s no surprise, then, that 82% of professionals in the US and UK say that they lose productivity on the phone. And yet, for many of us, those calls are set to become more common. Regus studies show a global average of half of employees working away from the office 2.5 or more days a week – a figure that rises to over 60% in Brazil and Mexico. Combine that with the fact that because fast-growth companies are turning more and more to near-shoring and remote working to increase their scalability, meetings can’t always be held in-house.

But your calls don’t need to be long and time wasting. Here’s how to keep them short, sweet and productive – plus some alternatives to spending time on the phone.

Cut your call time

  • Planning is key. Treat a call just like any other meeting; make sure you’ve sent out an agenda in advance, with the allotted time, objectives and topics for discussion. Make sure you’ve got someone to lead, keeping discussions on topic and within time constraints. End with a recap of what was discussed and create action points for going forward.
  • Streamline your processes. Research shows that 23% of a conference call is lost to unnecessary discussions – often a succession of people joining the call and seeing who’s already on. Including only people who truly need to participate and then circulating notes with key takeaways to everyone else afterward can drastically cut time and let you get straight down to business.

What are the other options?

  • Take advantage of flexible workspaces. Using business lounges or meeting rooms on flexible plans allows you to hold those important meetings face-to-face in locations that are more convenient for your workers, without the cost of a permanent investment.
  • Make the most of technology. Video-conferencing suites minimize the possibility of people being distracted by other tasks on the call and stops the confusion over who’s talking. Weekly status calls where you might only have a small amount of things to report can sometimes be replaced with shared progress documents in the Cloud. This way, everyone can fill in how far they’ve got without having to all convene at the same time.