Not all meetings are created equal, but there’s no denying that they are an important element of what we call work.
Have you ever considered what it would be like to have meeting-free workdays in your organisation? Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of it, holding on to hope that someday soon you’ll have a clear calendar – no meetings for you, hurrah!
Well, you might just be onto something there. We’ve noticed a rising trend in workplaces across the globe; the introduction of dedicated meeting-free workdays where everyone in an organisation avoids meetings like the…nah…we won’t go there.
Whether it’s a concept you’d like to experiment with in your workplace or a concept you’re not yet convinced on, we’ve got a list of the companies currently making the leap so you can learn from them. Read on to find out who is embracing meeting-free workdays and the benefits associated with this approach.
The companies embracing meeting-free workdays
Global tech giant Facebook announced their commitment to the practice of ‘Meeting-Free Wednesdays’ back in 2020, and their reasoning behind the move is worth pondering. As the organisation prepared for ongoing hybrid work approaches, CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared that the initiative of ‘Meeting-Free Wednesdays’ was partly an aim to encourage their people to skip their commutes and work from home mid-week. In his words, “A lot of people felt, ‘Hey, if I don’t have to come in and I don’t have meetings, then I’m going to be more efficient if I don’t have to commute into the office that day,’”.
In the case of Citi, the third-largest bank in the United States, they opted for eliminating video conference meetings on Fridays for their 210,000 strong staff. Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser made the call with the intention of encouraging workers to set boundaries for a healthier work-life balance. Further to this, they’ve gone on to introduce a firm-wide holiday called ‘Citi Reset Day’ as the toll of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt. The reasoning behind all of this? In the words of Citigroup CEO, Jane Fraser, “The blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being. It’s simply not sustainable. Since a return to any kind of new normal is still a few months away for many of us, we need to reset some of our working practices”.
Australia’s start-up darling, Canva, have joined the procession of workplaces offering their people designated meeting-free workdays. Amongst other new initiatives to support their people’s mental health and wellbeing, Canva has set Wednesdays as their organisation-wide meeting-free day. The decision to make this organisational shift came from a desire to help their people deal with the fatigue of video calls.
Wednesday and Friday sure seem to be the go-to choices when it comes to meeting-free workdays. Banking giant HSBC announced their commitment to Zoom-free Friday afternoons for UK staff in its commercial banking unit. At this stage, it’s a trial programme to boost wellbeing among employees and see how it could be further applied across the organisation. With their plants to shrink HSBC office space by 40% post-pandemic, the company is doing what it can to ensure they are creating a workplace that’s prepared for the future of work.
Yet another tech company are jumping on board with the concept of meeting-free workdays, but you might be surprised by how far they’ve taken it. Back in 2018, Pinterest’s Engineering team took part in a 100-day experiment to see how they’d benefit from having three days of the week blocked out as ‘meeting-free’. For them, this meant no meetings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Their main interest was seeing how this uninterrupted time helped the team in maintaining focus and improving productivity. After the experiment came to a close, they surveyed the team taking part and published their results over on the Pinterest blog. It’s safe to say that the majority found that having two days of meetings were better than scattered meetings throughout the week.
Why meeting-free workdays are rising in popularity
Given that the way we do work has been shaken up by the pandemic and rapid move to remote work, it makes sense that a few long-standing business practices like meetings are getting re-evaluated. Many organisations are looking for ways they can increase productivity in remote and hybrid work environments while supporting their people’s wellbeing.
With reports showing that 45% of employees are overwhelmed by the number of meetings they have to attend in a week, jumping on the meeting-free workday bandwagon certainly looks tempting.
The benefits of meeting-free workdays
If you’re still not 100% on whether it’s a good idea to implement meeting-free workdays in your workplace (even for a short experimentation period) here are a few of the benefits to this approach worth contemplating:
- Designating a meeting-free workday can help employees to maintain focus for long stretches and be productive in tasks requiring deep work.
- Introducing meeting-free workdays can make meetings on other days more purposeful and heighten the value that they bring.
- As Mark Zuckerberg shared, setting a weekly meeting-free workday can encourage more employees to embrace remote work.
The concept of meeting-free workdays is certainly making waves, are you ready to pick up a board and join the club? If you’re keen to dig into some more insights on workplace communication we’ve got a ripper of a read on asynchronous vs synchronous communication in hybrid teams ready and waiting.