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Face-to-face meetings set to decline when workplaces reopen

Face-to-face meetings are set to decline as most meetings will be run remotely even when employees re-enter the workplace, a new survey has found. 

Research commissioned by Redback Connect of 1000 Australian employees who have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed 80% of Australians who have been working from home say most meetings will be run remotely when they re-enter the workplace. 

However, 86% have identified problems with remote meetings to date, highlighting where they could improve.

The survey found larger organisations are more likely to create a staggered and incremental return to the office. As such, the survey revealed that the larger the organisation, the more likely they are to continue to hold remote meetings over face-to-face meetings. In organisations with more than 1000 employees, 88% of respondents believe remote meetings will dominate, compared with 63% of respondents in micro-businesses (up to 15 employees).

The survey also found that remote meetings have not been run well by some organisations, with employees having an issue with the length, lack of objectives, and structure. When asked about their experiences using remote meetings at home – and what improvements they felt were needed – 44% of respondents say they need to be shorter in length, and 41% say they should be more structured and productive, to continue effectively.

Thirty-eight per cent of respondents say remote meetings should be more purpose-driven, and 36% say they should result in clearer actions for all attendees and better progression of projects. Almost a third (30%) insist all meeting participants need to be focussed in the meeting – not just some attendees. Meanwhile, 27% of respondents believe all key decision-makers need to be present in the meetings.

When asked about remote meeting technology, 27% of respondents say that it should have fewer technical issues, while 23% say it should be easier to use.

“While video and teleconference meetings ensure physical distancing, our research reveals that poor meeting management and technical difficulties can sometimes defeat their purpose," says Jeff Downs, CEO and founder at Redback Connect.

"In this current climate, we have seen an overwhelming number of organisations fall back on video and audio meetings and teleconferences, simply because they are not aware of other remote meeting technologies they can use," he explains.

 “There are more purpose-specific virtual technologies that are interactive and offer personable content. Webinars, for example, enable organisations to create polls, live chats, or Q&As, which are successful at engaging large, dispersed audiences over time," says Downs.

"Town halls and studio broadcasts are ideal for C-suite announcements, while podcasts and event live streaming can engage larger audiences. As audiences become increasingly dispersed in our new socially-distanced business environment, innovative meeting platforms that keep everyone engaged are more crucial than ever.”

Survey quenstion: Thinking about the video/audio meetings you had when working from home, would they benefit from any of the below improvements?

  • Meetings could be shorter in length 44%
  • Meetings need to be more structured and productive 41%
  • Meetings should be more purpose-driven 38%
  • Meetings should result in clear actions for all attendees and better progression of projects 36%
  • All meeting participants need to be focussed in the meeting, not just some attendees 30%
  • All key decision makers should be present in the meetings – sometimes they are not 27%
  • The remote meeting technology should have fewer technical issues 27%
  • The remote meeting technology should be easier to use 23%
  • A more engaging meeting host is needed 17%
  • None of the above 14%