Last year, the market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted nearly three quarters of the total U.S. employees will be mobile workers by 2020. At the same time, Wainhouse Research, a firm focused on the Unified Communications (UC) market, found more than half (54%) of small to mid-size business (SMB) owners believe in-person meetings remain the most productive way to work. How can executives at SMB organizations reconcile these realities?
Considering analysts at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) estimate that small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) employ about half the nation’s workforce, it’s no small issue. Plus, complicating the matter is a recent study by West Unified Communications Services (WestUC). Researchers from WestUC polled more than 250 full-time U.S. workers and found the majority (44%) fall into a category the company dubbed “Meeting Fatigued.” In short, most employees reported they feel meetings are necessary but wish they didn’t need to attend as many as they do. So, faced with this 3-pronged conundrum, how can SMB leaders keep their teams engaged? SMB experts at WestUC suggest three ways:
- Always Have an Agenda WestUC discovered that only about a third of “Meeting Fatigued” workers reported agendas were used during their sessions – face-to-face, online or otherwise. No wonder attendees wish they were elsewhere. Agenda-less meetings encourage “irrelevant conversations,” writes WestUC blogger Mike Mardis. Those chats quickly sidetrack sessions and often necessitate longer or additional discussions. “A well-designed agenda ensures team members prepare for the meeting, helps quickly get the group on the same page and signifies when the meeting is over,” Mardis advises. “A small business owner’s time is precious, and agendas can prevent meetings from running over.”
- Always Assign a Moderator Agendas are like roadmaps that guide a business dialog to its intended destination. But what if no one is steering? Well, then, is it any surprise meetings drift off-road? Mardis says any meeting of any type should have a designated moderator, which doesn’t need to be the person who called the conference. Moderators should remain an active part of the conversation, Mardis recommends but “shouldn’t replace the leader’s (who often is the SMB business owner) presence in the meeting.” A moderator’s most significant role, he says, should be pinpointing action items that will be executed after the meeting.
- Try Video Conferencing Mardis opines that “video calls can help ease any hesitations small business owners may have about hosting online meetings since the platform allows teams to communicate on a more personal level than with audio-only calls.” We join him in his recommendation. In fact, we’ve advocated that SMB leaders adopt a video-friendly culture in past posts. And as always, we’re here to provide guidance for your journey. See any one of many posts about working with video conferencing technology, especially “3 Steps for Choosing a Video Conferencing System” and “The Why & How of Adopting Video Conferencing for SMBs.”