When Can That Meeting Actually be an Email?

COVID-19 brought about a massive change in the way we conduct business. As so many people were forced to switch to remote work set-ups, we learned a lot about interacting with one another in the office. And one of the most important things we learned became a catchphrase, “That meeting could have been an email.” Unproductive meetings, whether in the office or via Zoom, are time killers that reduce employee productivity. Here are some tips for deciding if your in-person meeting is required or if an email can be enough.

Questions to Ask

Before you decide to schedule a meeting, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the topic require discussion?
  • Is the issue or news sensitive enough that it should be delivered in person?
  • Is the subject complex and easily misunderstood?

If the answer is yes, you will need to call a meeting in person or over a conference or video call. That way, you can answer questions, involve your team in the discussion, or clear up any confusion right away.

Meetings That Should Be in Person

There are a few types of meetings that should always be in person. These include performance reviews, conversations about career development, and conflict resolutions. You should also provide any critical company updates in a meeting, such as information about a restructure or acquisition. When the topic can lead to anxiety or questions, don’t deliver that news via email. One other meeting you should always schedule is a new hire welcome. It gives your new team member a chance to meet everyone and feel included.

Messages that Can Be Delivered Via Email

However, plenty of meetings could be summed up in an email or through other avenues. A project status report can be centralized in your project management system. You can also email goal progress and outcome reports. And if you have a regularly reoccurring meeting that usually finishes early, it may be time to repurpose that into a status email. You can also email low-pressure company announcements such as new website designs or the recognition of a team member.

Alternatives to Meetings or Email

Sometimes neither an in-person meeting nor an email is the right platform for updates. That’s where having a project management tool can be helpful. Many companies are utilizing systems such as Asana or Trello to manage communications. Or you can implement proprietary software that connects your team online. The use of these tools can reduce time in meetings so your employee can focus on their productivity.

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