This Could’ve Been an Email: What Will the Future of Meetings Look Like?

We’ve all seen the memes. The ones making fun of unnecessary meetings that could’ve been an email, like this:

Future of Meetings

Yes, it’s no secret that many — perhaps even most — meetings are huge wastes of time and resources, creating a series of black holes in your schedule when you could otherwise be doing something, you know, productive.

In fact, boring and superfluous meetings aren’t just a punchline for jokes on social media. They actually cost businesses a lot of money — and employees a lot of sanity — each year. As Bloomberg reported, useless meetings can cost businesses up to $100 million a year, and employees say they don’t need to be in almost one-third of meetings they attend. And, according to Harvard Business Review, 71% of senior managers said meetings are unproductive and inefficient, and 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own tasks.

Now, you might think the rise in remote work and virtual meetings during the pandemic would’ve helped matters; but it hasn’t. Microsoft found that weekly time spent in meetings increased by a whopping 252% from 2020 to 2021. No wonder many are now suffering from so-called Zoom fatigue.

Future of Meetings

So, the question remains: How can project managers improve or even cut out meetings to increase productivity and employee satisfaction?

To help provide an answer, the Project Management Institute (PMI) is holding its next The Future of Meetings event in Stockholm, Sweden from March 13-14. And, in anticipation of the event, we’re unpacking our ideas for what the future of meetings might look like right here.

With the right tools, you can make your meetings disappear

Now, if you were to use sci-fi movies as your benchmark for the future of meetings, you might picture hologram projections and robot secretaries. And, while we do have tools like Microsoft Teams and Siri, in reality, the future of meetings is a lot more boring. In fact, the future of meetings might not exist at all.

With the right tools at your fingertips, you can cut out those unnecessary time-sucks and make most of your meetings disappear.

You can use our adaptive project management platform, for example, to keep your teams updated with real-time data. Seeing as the platform is easy to access and share, you won’t need to schedule meetings to check in with collaborators and present your project progress to stakeholders. Everyone can simply open the platform to see the project status in one easy-to-use workflow, like this:

Future of Meetings

So, whether you’re working with marketing, communications, or IT, all participants can track their progress and stay on the same page. And, without meetings clogging your schedule, you can also save time on those annoying pre- and post-meeting tasks like prepping decks and conducting debriefs. All the real-time data you need is baked in and ready for you on your project management platform:

Future of Meetings

Rule of thumb: Only schedule meetings for milestones

Of course, this isn’t to say all meetings are bad. Some face-to-face meetings are necessary for collaborative brainstorming and staying on track towards important milestones. So, if you have your project management platform up and running, try only scheduling meetings if: there’s a major change that needs to be discussed in-person or your milestones aren’t being met.

But those daily standups and weekly status meetings? They can get cut.

Actually, this didn’t even have to be an email…

Yes, many meetings could’ve just been an email — a simple note saying “Please update this task” or “Here are those numbers from the latest report.” But really, with a comprehensive project management platform, that meeting didn’t even have to be an email. Or a ping. Or a DM. Or even a shoulder tap. It didn’t have to interrupt your schedule at all. Because, again, all the data and information needed would be accessible right on that platform — for all participants and stakeholders to see.

So, aside from Zoom fatigue and burnout, what will the future of meetings really hold? The answer is: Hopefully no meetings at all! Or, at the very least, much more streamlined and intentional meetings that actually move the ball forward instead of holding you back.

That’s what we look forward to discussing at the Future of Meetings event next month. As the PMI put it:  “Just because we can go from one meeting to another in a minute, doesn’t mean we should […] Nobody enjoys meeting for meeting’s sake, and therefore a meeting without a clear objective is frustrating for everybody involved.”

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