Face-to-face meetings set to drop when workers re-enter the office

New research reveals 80 per cent of Australians who have been working from home say most meetings will be run remotely when they re-enter the workplace.

However, 86 per cent have identified problems with remote meetings to date, highlighting where they could improve, according to research by digital event specialist Redback Connect.

The findings come from an independent survey of a nationally representative panel of 1000 Australian employees who have been working from home – full-time or part-time – during the pandemic.

Larger organisations are more likely to create a staggered and incremental return to the office. As such, the survey revealed that the larger the organisation, the more likely they are to continue to hold remote meetings over face-to-face meetings.

In organisations with more than 1000 employees, 88 per cent of respondents believe remote meetings will dominate, compared with 63 per cent of respondents in micro-businesses (up to 15 employees).

The survey also found that remote meetings have not been run well by some organisations, with employees having an issue with the length, lack of objectives, and structure. When asked about their experiences using remote meetings at home – and what improvements they felt were needed – 44 per cent of respondents say they need to be shorter in length, and 41 per cent say they should be more structured and productive, to continue effectively.

Thirty-eight per cent of respondents say remote meetings should be more purpose-driven, and 36 per cent say they should result in clearer actions for all attendees and better progression of projects. Almost a third (30 per cent) insist all meeting participants need to be focused in the meeting – not just some attendees. Meanwhile, 27 per cent of respondents believe all key decision-makers need to be present in the meetings.

When asked about remote meeting technology, 27 per cent of respondents say that it should have fewer technical issues, while 23 per cent say it should be easier to use.

“While video and teleconference meetings ensure physical distancing, our research reveals that poor meeting management and technical difficulties can sometimes defeat their purpose,” said Redback Connect CEO Jeff Downs.

“In this current climate, we have seen an overwhelming number of organisations fall back on video and audio meetings and teleconferences, simply because they are not aware of other remote meeting technologies they can use.

“There are more purpose-specific virtual technologies that are interactive and offer personable content. Webinars, for example, enable organisations to create polls, live chats, or Q&As, which are successful at engaging large, dispersed audiences over time. Town halls and studio broadcasts are ideal for C-suite announcements, while podcasts and event live streaming can engage larger audiences.

“As audiences become increasingly dispersed in our new socially-distanced business environment, innovative meeting platforms that keep everyone engaged are more crucial than ever.”