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  • Writer's pictureDan Berger

Part I: How COVID has Impacted Meetings - Small Meetings

The National Bureau of Economic Research recently published a working paper on insights they gleaned from calendar and email information from more than 3.1 million workers around the world. They found that, on average, while people were attending more meetings, and each meeting had more attendees, those meetings were shorter overall.

Furthermore, despite spending less time in meetings, the workday has increased by nearly an hour, and workers are sending more emails during the day and after hours.The bottom line? The changes we’ve enacted to stop the virus’s spread are making us more productive—not less so. And that’s one component of GDP growth (the other is birth rate).

By now you’ve probably logged into Zoom meetings more times than you can count. And while you may consider the corners you’ve cut when it comes to hygiene (seriously, fresh breath product sales are down) and not having to manage a hellish commute as benefits, there are several others:

Increased individual efficiency. Since no one is wasting time lingering around a conference room before and after meetings making awkward smalltalk, many of us are finding that our days feel more spacious.

Significant time savings. Today, nobody’s traveling for meetings at all—not even from their desk to the meeting room, let alone to another office. Just think about how much time you’re banking without the need to physically move from one meeting to the next. Say you’re saving just ten minutes per intra-office meeting. If you attend three meetings a day on average, that’s 30 minutes a day, and 2.5 hours a week. Factor in the time you’d typically spend traveling to meetings outside the office or taking meetings in the field and you can see how this adds up.

Reduced expenses. Without catering or venue rental costs, among many others, the price of hosting an event has gone down significantly. Small meetings (e.g. angel investor meetings) may never come back to in-person. That frees up funds for other endeavors (although most organizations are using it to increase their margins).

You can see that the ways in which we’ve adapted to the pandemic may have long-term implications for the future of work when it comes to intra-company meetings. The same is true in the overall meeting industry, where the COVID-driven shift to virtual is paying off in new and unexpected ways—and particularly for networking. I’ll lay those out in my next post.

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