Aaron Bare in Fast Co.: The Future of Work
It’s time to reimagine the workplace, redefine success, and transform the modern work experience in the era of the hybrid work model.
During my research for Exponential Theory, I had the opportunity to study workplace cultures at some of the most disruptive companies in the world. Through these experiences, I came to realize that traditional meetings may no longer be the most effective way to foster collaboration and communication in the workplace. I believe conscious leaders should explore alternatives to meetings that can positively impact employee well-being and productivity both in the office and remotely.
Why eliminate meetings? Meetings can disrupt the flow of work and consume valuable time that could be better spent on more meaningful tasks. The average office worker spends roughly 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings, and 71% of managers say meetings are ineffective. To avoid these pitfalls, leaders should maximize the benefits of the hybrid model, which allows employees to engage in deep work while remote and collaborative work while in the office. The traditional meeting, considered by many to be the artery-clogging plague of the workday, may no longer hold its place in the future of work.
REPLACING MEETINGS WITH EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES
To create a future without meetings, leaders should first identify effective alternatives that foster communication and collaboration without interrupting workflow. Through assessing cultural performance at Fortune 500 companies and my work with the Flow Research Collective, I’ve found the following strategies thrive in the absence of meetings:
Asynchronous communication: Utilize tools and platforms that allow employees to communicate and collaborate on their own time, without the need for scheduled meetings. This approach reduces the pressure to attend meetings and enables team members to work at their own pace.
Designated facilitated-collaboration time: In the hybrid model, reserve in-office days for focused facilitated collaboration, brainstorming, and problem-solving sessions. These sessions should be facilitated, goal-oriented, and time-limited, ensuring employees can return to deep work quickly.
Transparent project management: Implement project management tools that offer transparency and visibility into the progress and status of tasks. This approach eliminates the need for status update meetings and allows employees to focus on their work.
Scheduled office hours: Encourage leaders and team members to establish designated office hours during which employees can approach them with questions or concerns. This system reduces the need for impromptu meetings and fosters a culture of open communication.
Collaborative conversation framework: Fellow XMBA learning community members Anca Castillo and Cary Lopez, co-founders at DesignConvo LLC, have developed a framework for “collaborative conversations,” or “convos,” designed to maximize collaboration, encourage active listening, and foster a sense of community.
Their framework, which consists of five main steps—Confirm, Orient, Navigate, Vision, and Organize—provides a clear structure for meaningful dialogue and incorporates crucial elements like trust-building, psychological safety, and vulnerability. This approach ensures that all participants have the opportunity to share their perspectives and ideas, driving accountability and resulting in actionable outcomes.
By adopting alternatives to traditional meetings, organizations can make strides toward a future without meetings, enabling employees to focus more time on adding value and being productive.
EMPOWERING EMPLOYEES IN A MEETING-FREE FUTURE
As leaders navigate the future of work, they should recognize that a world without meetings is not only possible but also desirable. Eliminating meetings can empower employees to focus on deep work and achieve more meaningful results. To succeed in this new paradigm, organizations should prioritize the following:
Employee autonomy: Empower employees to manage their time and workload effectively, offering trust and support as they adapt to a meeting-free environment. This could include giving employees more control over their schedules, encouraging them to set priorities and goals, and providing the resources and support they need to work independently.
Outcome-driven performance metrics: Shift the focus from hours worked to the quality and impact of employees’ output by implementing outcome-driven performance metrics. Reward employees for achieving goals and producing meaningful results. This can help to incentivize employees to focus on deep work and creative problem-solving rather than simply putting in more hours.
Continuous learning and development: Encourage employees to pursue personal and professional growth, offering resources and opportunities for skill development and knowledge acquisition. This could include training programs, mentorship, coaching, learning communities, and other forms of professional development. By investing in employees’ growth and development, organizations can foster a culture of learning and innovation.
Mental and emotional well-being: Prioritize the mental and emotional health of employees, recognizing that a focus on deep work and collaboration can contribute to a healthier work-life balance. This could include offering mental health resources and support, promoting work-life balance, and encouraging mindfulness and self-care practices. By taking care of their employees’ well-being, organizations can create a more engaged and motivated workforce.
When envisioning the future of work, I believe it’s essential to embrace the potential of a world without meetings. By prioritizing employee autonomy, outcome-driven performance metrics, continuous learning and development, and mental and emotional well-being, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce and create a healthier, more productive work environment.
Replacing traditional meetings with effective alternatives empowers employees to focus on deep work and collaboration, helping to create a more productive and satisfying work environment for all. Adopting a no-meetings culture can help leaders cultivate an exponential mindset that drives innovation and growth. It’s time to reimagine the workplace, redefine success, and transform the modern work experience in the era of the hybrid work model.
Aaron Bare is the Author of Exponential Theory, Founder of the Change Agents Academy, and an IAF Endorsed Facilitator.
Aaron Bare is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of Exponential Theory, Founder of the Change Agents Academy, and IAF Endorsed Facilitator.