One of the downsides of remote work is sometimes the amount of meetings you are involved in dramatically increases. Unfortunately, this is usually due to companies who are new to having a remote team or have bad policies in place.
Yet to really achieve results and better productivity, it’s important to have a “no meeting day.” The goal of having no meeting days is about limiting the need for them while improving how active meetings are done.
Generally, people will agree that meetings can be a drag. It was shown that most workers today spend about 85% of their time in meetings. And additional studies have shown how too many meetings negatively affect people’s psychological, physical, and mental well-being.
So what is a no meeting day all about? And how can you implement this with your remote teams for better work and productivity?
What is a No Meeting Day?
A no meeting day is when everyone has a day blocked off on their calendars each week, where the only focus is on their own work. That means no one-on-ones, team meetings, etc. Implementing this allows for better results on projects or tasks, fewer interruptions, and renewed energy that positively improves productivity.
Often in remote companies, a no meeting day is somewhat similar to a flex Friday. Where every Friday, it is encouraged for employees to use the day for work or personal time. And no meetings or check-ins should be scheduled.
But the general idea behind implementing a no meeting day is for two main reasons:
- It forces other meetings throughout the week to be more focused and efficient. Thus, making meetings more valuable when they are happening.
- It allows your team to feel more productive and have time for actual work tasks without being interrupted. As interruptions can take away from a good workflow rhythm.
Some companies with no meeting days
Although I’m talking about how no meeting days improve remote work, it benefits companies where people are in the office or work in the hybrid model (some days remote) too.
Here are three companies that encourage days where no meetings are happening:
Benefits of Meeting Free Days for Remote Work
Again, almost any of this applies to any form of work today. The goal is to make work better and improve the lives of employees.
However, I see no meeting days as extremely important for remote-first companies and companies with some remote workers. Here are a few benefits of having a consistent no meeting day.
For remote work, you may be inundated with different distractions.
Beyond meeting requests, you might have Slack or Teams chats dinging in your ear, constant emails, phone calls, and other at-home distractions. Limiting your meeting days and turning off distractions, it allows you to do better work.
More time for doing actual work
Having time blocked off or a full day of no meetings gives you ample time for actual work.
I know there have been days where I’m in back-to-back meetings, just talking about projects. By the time that all wraps up, the workday is over. There was no time for doing any actual work!
It feels like without blocking time off, you are getting paid to sit on meetings all day. Sure, doing no work and getting paid sounds glamorous, but it’s also boring!
Improves your productivity flow
A study conducted at the University of California, Irvine found that most people take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from an interruption. By the time you recover back to your flow, there is either another meeting request or another distraction.
By implementing a no meeting day, you know can keep your rhythm going and feel accomplished with projects or tasks.
Increases team morale
Without meeting distractions, it allows everyone to actually get work done during their allotted schedules. No need for early mornings, late nights, weekend warriors, or having to tell your boss projects isn’t going to be done on time.
When everyone can get their work done or get ahead, there is a sense of accomplishment. The team will feel less mentally drained and more empowered by their work. Essentially, it starts to change people’s moods positively which trickles down to other colleagues.
Actual meetings hopefully get better
Although a no meeting day is good to implement, your team must ensure it doesn’t force the other meetings to get worse. This means, that more people try to fit more conversations, projects, or tasks because there is one less day for meetings.
Instead, this should force everyone to take a good look at how meetings are held. And start putting policies in place to reduce what constitutes a meeting, when people should be involved, and more. It’s time to make actual meetings better!
How Do You Implement No Meeting Days?
Now meetings are still important, the challenge is often there are just too many! Having a no meeting day can give everyone a break, but how you implement this process is up to your team or company.
For example, some teams might only block a certain day, or it might be certain times on specific days, etc. Whatever works best for you and your co-workers!
However, here are some essential tips to help you implement no meeting days.
1. Be clear to why this is necessary
Before you share your thoughts with your team, you need to have a clear understanding of why you want to introduce a no meeting day. How does this benefit individuals, the team, and the company? You want to ensure the points you have will resonate and get others to understand the potential impact.
I’m always a fan of some data or real-life examples. You can use some states below or even how it impacts your own work.
- Professionals attend up to 2 hours of pointless meetings per week according to Project Managers News.
- 67% of workers say excessive meetings keep them from getting their best work done, according to CNBC.
- 71% of managers said meetings tend to be unproductive and inefficient. And 65% feel meetings keep them from completing their own work, according to Harvard Business Review.
2. Get initial feedback from your team
Whether you are a manager or not, it’s important to broach this with your team.
Share the idea of a no meeting day and see how people respond. And this is a great time to get some initial feedback, start figuring out a plan, and see what is needed to make this happen. More than likely, your remote co-workers will be onboard.
3. Get support for no meeting days
Again, whether you are a manager or not you may need further support beyond your co-workers. Maybe you are a manager that can make that decision or maybe you need to go higher up in leadership.
Either way, getting further support and people in your corner goes a long way. Plus, you might even better influence the remote work policy at your company.
4. Pick the day that works best
Now, people may have certain preferences and different teams might want different days. That’s totally okay, but to start with your team, just find a day that will be agreeable. It might take you all working together on a calendar audit, to truly examine the restructuring of meetings and the best day to begin this process.
The two days I like for this are:
- Wednesdays. It breaks up the workweek and can help people get over the mid-week hump with a super productive day of no meetings.
- Mondays. After a weekend, I need to ease into the week and figure out what I’d like to focus on. Having a bunch of meetings at the start of the week already kills my vibe.
If you are unsure, the best place to start would probably be a Wednesday.
5. Set the expectations for others
You will find that it can be difficult to make this change and balance other meetings with one day less. Mostly, for other teams or leaders who want to have meetings. But this is where once implemented, you need to ensure everyone sets their boundaries.
Make sure to communicate that that day or time is off-limits for a meeting. Block off the calendars with a note and ensure people have the tools needed to still stay connected, but without a need for a meeting.
With remote work, it’s important to over-communicate, otherwise, you could catch co-workers off guard. They should be in the loop!
6. Lead by example
If you are a manager or company leader excited about no meeting days, then you need to live by what you preach! That means stick to the day each week where you have no meetings, nor request meetings from the others.
Also, send reminders, speak up during active meetings, and keep providing information as needed to show this is a positive initiative for everyone. Do you work asynchronously and be an example for colleagues.
7. Give the team what they need
What does the team need for effective no meeting days? They need to know what this is about and what will make it most effective. Ask everyone what they need to ensure they are producing quality work, but stick to the schedule.
Are there specific technologies needed? Is it a guideline to help them follow? Do they need to define the goals of a no meeting day? Whatever it may be, deliver those items and you’ll find this process is much more successful.
8. Improve the efficiency of active meetings
Although no meeting days are great, remember that you also have to improve the active meetings as well.
Make meetings better by having clear agendas, objectives, and running them efficiently to not waste time. Start to think about what is necessary for a meeting and what can be an email or a quick Slack note.
And you also should be thinking about meetings that can be canceled. You know the ones that seem always unproductive or don’t have a clear agenda. It’s okay to remove those for better working experiences, especially for remote work.
No Meeting Days Doesn’t Solve Everything
As noted, while a no meeting day has plenty of benefits, it doesn’t solve everything. In fact, removing a day of the week from meetings can push agendas to other days.
This can cause more frustrations and stress, as employees have less time to get things done. But it’s exactly why it’s important to implement a better meeting strategy overall while having a no meeting day.
Be flexible with your needs and the team you are on. If you are a leader, be open to having teams of individuals who all have a different way of approaching this. Sometimes having one day as a single company-wide initiative, will divide people and do more harm than good.
Managers and leaders must start to recognize that not every activity should require a meeting. Most of the best results come from people being focused and spending their time on actual work, not being distracted by those micromanaging them.
Meetings are still important, for both remote teams and those in the office. So don’t worry, you shouldn’t go without them completely. But it’s a balancing act for sure.
And this is where good communication and listening are critical, especially for those working remotely. When you do that, you’ll find a no meeting day can have a profound impact.