Harnessing Meetings to Improve your Work-Life Balance

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girl working on laptop from her bed as part of the work-life balance conundrum

As more and more workforces adopt hybrid and work-from-anywhere models, using the right combination of technologies to create effective meetings can not only enhance productivity, but also promote well-being. Using a variety of tech solutions that improve scheduling and time management, communication, and collaboration is key to achieving positive work-life balance.

In a world of constant technological innovation, it can be difficult to determine what’s most helpful to supporting a workforce’s performance. As we navigate new work models such as hybrid and work-from-anywhere, this technology must also factor in the importance of protecting employee personal time. Meetings can have a major impact on the length of a workday, which affects work-life balance.

While the definition of work-life balance is subjective, at its core, it encompasses setting healthy boundaries in our professional lives that promote psychological, emotional and physical well-being. Research finds that 68% of workers say poor work-life balance negatively impacts morale and motivation at work. Achieving positive work-life balance is vital to prevent burn out and improve productivity.

Long considered the source of the problem, technology actually has the power to tackle the burnout it can also cause. Specifically, using the right kind of technology to improve meetings can help establish boundaries in our daily routines. Every organization should deploy technology to ensure they’re setting up their workforce to perform optimally and strike a positive work-life balance. There is technology available to support employees and organizations in three core areas: scheduling, communication and collaboration.

Scheduling

First of all, I think we can agree that, in general, meetings suck. Whether in person or virtual, we still have too many of them—and too many of them are pointless. People often believe that the more people “in the know,” the better. In reality, this blanket approach is inefficient and wastes time. People are forced to join meetings they shouldn’t be part of, further contributing to employee burnout.

Because of meetings, we are overwhelmed with jam-packed schedules that undermine our productivity. In fact, in a survey by Harvard Business Review, 71% of senior managers said that meetings are unproductive and inefficient, while 65% said that meetings keep them from completing their own work.

Meetings should not be the go-to method for all matters, especially when content can be summed up in simple emails, Slack/Teams or short phone calls. Every meeting should have a purpose, and there are tech solutions to ensure meetings are productive and take place at the best time for participants. This is where intelligent scheduling comes in.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning, combined with best meeting practices, allows intelligent scheduling to analyze your calendar to suggest optimal meeting times depending on your schedule preferences and best practices. Capabilities like natural language processing can also understand what types of items are scheduled and take that into account when helping to plan your future schedule. Additionally, solutions can identify meeting participants based on learned trends, ensuring that the right people attend. Ultimately, intelligent scheduling prioritizes your work preferences and lifestyle, mitigating burnout and maximizing productivity for the business.

Communication

Hybrid and work-from-anywhere environments heavily rely on communication technology to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Using technology to embed timed meeting agendas can also optimize communication. Everybody has experienced a meeting that ends on time, but the priority items don’t get discussed. This leads to even more meetings to cover the things the previous meeting didn’t. This becomes a never-ending cycle. With a timed agenda that allocates specific time and duration for priority items to be discussed, meetings are streamlined and purposeful.

Effective communication eliminates time-consuming tasks, such as writing emails, repeating information and joining more meetings. Communication tools foster a positive work-life balance and give us more time to focus on the work that matters. 

Collaboration

When used effectively, collaboration technology opens up more ways to work together constructively, even miles apart and at different times.

Real-time shared meeting notes can take meeting collaboration to the next level. They help participants focus on the content, and take less notes, crowdsourcing the process among the attendees. Collaborators can save time cleaning up notes and, instead, conclude meetings with a list of action items shared with all participants. Running more efficient meetings helps people keep to their schedules and protects the boundary between work and personal hours to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

“Business as usual” perpetuates employee burnout and turnover. It was already unsustainable and it has proven to be worse in the work-from-anywhere environment. By harnessing the power of tech to work for us to transform meetings, we can increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, which reinforces our sense of well-being. A positive work-life balance can be achieved if we are willing to set healthy boundaries and purposefully utilize innovation designed to enhance scheduling, communication and collaboration.

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