Modernizing Meetings To ‘Do More With Less’ in 2023

An opinion piece by the founder and CEO of Otter.ai

Sam Liang, Otter.ai CEO

December 22, 2022

5 Min Read

As we wave goodbye to 2022 and prepare to welcome 2023, businesses are beginning to feel the strain of a potentially looming recession in the upcoming year. As such, finding ways to do more with less is becoming a hot topic for organizations of all sizes.

It is no secret that the last few years have seen a huge shift in the way we work and hire. The labor shortage that occurred during the pandemic, together with the ‘Great Resignation,’ meant that companies went to great lengths to fill roles. The labor market is more competitive than it had been in decades, with many companies needing to provide flexibility through hybrid and remote working to attract and retain top talent. 

Now, businesses must reckon with these changes and find ways to make their workforce more productive whether remote, hybrid or office-based.

One of the more mundane aspects of working life − meetings − holds the key to enabling businesses to do more with less in 2023, through a change of mindset and innovative technologies, such as AI. 

Transforming meetings for today’s workplaces

With the advent of flexible working options, many organizations had a hard time adjusting to a more distributed workforce. As such, businesses over-compensated while navigating communication and collaboration in this new era of work.

This resulted in an over-proliferation of meetings as organizations looked to ensure teams across the enterprise were in tune with one another. The impact? Too many meetings meant stifling employee productivity, which in turn has had a detrimental effect on their well-being and, ultimately, costing organizations time and money. 

By regaining control of meeting cadence, companies can drive efficiencies, cut costs and add to employee satisfaction. To modernize meeting culture, the approach needs to be two-fold: Empower employees to skip the meetings they do not need to attend and reduce the number of meetings − with technology as the backdrop to meeting these goals.

1. Re-think ‘broken’ meeting etiquette and culture 

Our research into meeting culture in 2022 revealed that more than a third of an employee’s time is spent in meetings and 31% of these meetings were deemed “unnecessary.” The impact of this over-proliferation of meetings, especially those that are needless, is significant for businesses and their workforce.

With 80% of businesses not telling employees when they can miss a meeting, it is time we had an honest conversation about our ‘broken’ meeting practices that are leaving employees ‘frustrated.’

Tellingly, half of employees do not feel comfortable declining meetings even if they are too busy and 46% will attend a meeting even though they know it is not a productive use of their time. 

This meeting inefficiency leaves the workforce fatigued, overwhelmed and disconnected, with employees choosing to multitask during unnecessary meetings rather than participating. By rethinking our meeting culture and canceling unnecessary meetings, 84% say their productivity would improve and 70% say they would have more job satisfaction.

The new year is an opportunity for companies to start afresh: Improve organization-wide meeting cadence, culture and practices. By being more open and communicative about when it is acceptable to skip a meeting, businesses can free up their employees’ time and ensure that meetings are not a cause of disengagement.

Distributing meeting notes, automated with AI technology, can drive meeting efficiency: 71% of employees said they would feel more comfortable skipping a meeting if they received high-quality notes afterwards. Post-meeting notes and actions, powered by AI, can enable business leaders to foster a culture where missing unnecessary meetings would not affect organization-wide cohesion.

2. Reducing meetings unlocks cost savings

When an economic downturn ensues, cost-saving activities become of utmost importance to businesses. Not only will reducing meeting cadence make a positive difference when it comes to productivity and employee well-being, but it can also save businesses a lot of money.

On average, companies spend over $80,000 per employee annually to attend meetings, according to our research, “The Cost of Unnecessary Meeting Attendance.” And with a third of these meetings being needless, reducing unnecessary meetings could save a company with 100 people nearly $2.5 million each year and companies with more than 5,000 employees over $100 million annually. 

Research also shows companies that find the right balance between cutting costs and investing in growth opportunities in a recession have the most chance of post-downturn success. Technology can help in this area, too; AI-powered analytics provide businesses with valuable data for strategic decision-making when it comes to growth and innovation.

Creating an open and communicative environment, where employees feel empowered to skip the meetings they deem unnecessary, will be critical for cutting costs and engaging workers, whether they are in the office, on the move, or working from home in 2023. 

A modern approach

Businesses recognize that improving productivity leads to cost savings and overall organizational efficiency, but we must take an approach in 2023 that empowers productivity, instead of micromanaging employees through productivity tracking software and forced in-office policies.

Employers require their employees to be productive but are getting less from them as seen in the ‘quiet quitting’ trend. So as we ask how companies can increase collaboration, productivity and cut costs − while not risking an environment of micromanaged employees − we must recognize the impact meetings are having on all three.

Companies that adopt a modern approach to meeting culture, driven by Natural Language Processing and AI technology, can develop a more robust and effective work environment where employees are empowered to put their priorities and productivity ahead of old-fashioned meeting attendance policies.

This will build trust as well as more effective and collaborative forms of communication, where messages can be shared beyond the parameters of traditional meetings, remote or in-person.

About the Author(s)

Sam Liang, Otter.ai CEO

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