The encouraging evolution of remote meetings

Amid fears of employee disengagement, new research using data on remote meetings since 2020 suggests employees are interacting with each other more, not less.

Researcher Andrew Brodsky, assistant professor of management at Texas McCombs, gathered metadata from all Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx meetings from 10 large global organizations spanning a variety of fields. Set to publish in Harvard Business Review, the research found remote meetings have become:

  • Shorter—Since 2020, remote meetings have decreased in length by 25% from an average of 43 minutes per meeting in 2020 to 33 minutes in 2022.
  • More frequent—There were 59% more remote meetings per employee in 2022 as compared to 2020 (a change of an average of 5 to 8 meetings per week per employee).
  • Smaller—The average number of participants per meeting drop by half from an average of 20 participants per meeting in 2020 to 10 participants per meeting in 2022. This change was driven predominately by the increase in the proportion of 1-on-1 rather than larger group meetings.
  • More spontaneous—In 2020, only 17% of 1-on-1 meetings were unscheduled, but in 2022, 66% of 1-on-1 meetings were unscheduled. Furthermore, the growth in 1-on-1 meetings between 2020 and 2022 was almost solely due to the increase in unscheduled meetings (whereas scheduled meetings remained relatively constant).
  • “The combination of these findings presents an interesting picture: not that remote workers seem to be becoming less engaged, but rather—at least with respect to meetings—they are becoming more engaged with their colleagues. …This data also suggests that remote interactions are shifting to more-closely mirror in-person interactions. Whereas there have been substantial concerns that employees are missing out on the casual and spontaneous rich interactions that happen in-person, these findings indicate that remote employees may be beginning to compensate for the loss of those interactions by increasingly having impromptu meetings remotely.” – Andrew Brodsky, assistant professor of management at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin

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