What have we learned about meeting behavior?
Here at Mersive we realize that we are operating in a market that has yet to reach full maturity, we consistently speculate on how people will use and interact with our Solstice products. However since the act of conducting and attending meetings is a universally relatable subject, we lots of resources available to us to contribute to and improve our understanding, including our customers, network of partners, and often even our own team.
In an effort to go even father and get a large set of current data about meetings, we recently conducted a survey on meetings in the workplace with respondents from many different roles and industries. We asked survey respondents to answer questions about meeting frequency, attendance, challenges, common practices, and technology, among other things.
What we have learned we have found to be both interesting and enlightening. Some of the responses matched our speculation, while other results were either counter-intuitive or the exact opposite of what we expected to see. Needless to say, we learned a lot about how professionals conduct meetings and how the efficient, effective, and productive meetings are in general – alas much less so than most managers would like.
We feel that this information sheds light on an important subject, which is why we’re sharing it here with you. Outlined below are some major takeaways based on analyzing the survey results on meeting behavior. Feel free to share these results with friends and colleagues – anyone you think could benefit from insight into the meetings we attend constantly in our workplaces.
Professionals attend meetings regularly
Fifty-one percent (51%) of those questioned responded that they attended more than 3 meetings a week and 33% responded that they attended more than 10 meetings a week. That is a LOT of meetings. Considering that most of us have jobs where meetings make only a portion of our required activities, people spend a lot of time in conference/huddle rooms.
The takeaway is that meetings are an important component of conducting business and present a huge opportunity to improve organizational and operational productivity and output. If we – the AV industry – can help businesses conduct their meetings more efficiently and effectively, we will be helping them in a way that will make a big impact.
Technical issues kill meeting productivity
Have you ever been in a meeting that couldn’t start because the presenter couldn’t get his or her presentation up on the projector? It’s not a new story. In fact, 41% of respondents reported technical difficulties sharing to a display in over half of the meetings they attended. This is very telling; even with all of the advancements in AV technology, nearly half of meetings have some sort of issue with technology. This hampers the natural flow of information and collaborative processes in those meetings, creating inefficiency and negatively affecting productivity through longer-than-necessary meeting times.
Lack of participation and engagement is a challenge for productivity
Almost half of survey respondents (44.8%) indicated that getting meeting participants to engage and participate was the most common challenge of meetings they attended. Additionally, 44.2% of responders felt that only half of the meetings they attended were productive/effective.
These responses are likely related and paint a clear picture about what is going on in our meetings. Attendees do not feel that meetings are as productive as they should be based on the level of participation of those attending.
We have all had the experience of sitting through a meeting which is wholly controlled by one-two people, where the rest of those attending are more or less just observers instead of participants. And unless the meeting presenters are REALLY interesting, it’s hard to stay focused. These sort of scenarios play out every day in the workplace and are counterproductive to the collaborative process, which is likely connected to the fact that just over half of survey responses we collected indicated that meetings were productive more than 50% of the time.
The best meetings are all based in content sharing
When designing the Solstice product we used behavioral studies on meeting behavior to help determine which features would utilize to make the product the most useful in the most important ’trouble’ areas of conducting meetings. This meant cutting the time needed to setup for a meeting to the absolute minimum and allowing people to share their content rapidly and organically, while maintaining an organized infrastructure. And our most recent survey s gives us more insight into the role shared content plays in our meetings. Not surprisingly, shared content was revealed to be a very important driver to the modern meeting.
Consistent with what we learned when developing Solstice originally, we found that 43% felt the most helpful way to facilitate productive/effective meetings is for content to be shared by multiple people on a display simultaneously. Second up, 33% of respondents reported faster meeting start times.
An astounding number of responses (98.1%) indicated that they found it valuable when content was shared with the group via a display in the room. The most popular types of content to share via a display were images/pictures (61.9%), PDF documents (46.4%), and MS Office applications (45.2%). Many of us are visual learners. As a consequence of bringing many different skillsets together in a room, having content which is shareable and viewable for the group is vital to the flow of information in the collaboration process.
Based on the results of this survey, we have been able to determine what hasn’t worked in the past and what challenges companies face the AV industry as it strives to better serve it its customers. So what can be said about the current technology environment that we are in? Where can we read between the lines and find opportunities that aren’t obvious?
We’ve chosen to think outside of the box in analyzing our recent survey. Another option we recommend is to investigate non-industry specific trends in technology to try and get a gauge what customers’ needs are now and what they will evolve to in the future.
Meetings are going mobile
BYOD is a hot term right now. Everyone from IT bloggers to school administrators to political figures (wink, wink Hillary Clinton) can be tied to the trend of mobile devices being frequently used in classrooms, conference rooms, huddle rooms…you name it. A large portion of us are tied to our mobile devices, so it should come as no surprise that we’ve come to expect these devices to be used as a medium for accessing content in the workplace as much as in our social lives.
Our recent survey substantiates this trend: In 2012 we conducted a survey in which we asked what items people typically bring into meetings them. We asked a similar question in 2015. By comparing the answers it is easy to interpret the results and relate them to the trends we see have been seeing in technology.
In 2012, 78.7% responded that they would typically bring pen and paper into meetings. In 2015, this percentage went down drastically to only 19.8%. In 2012, the number of Android tablets brought to meetings was 8.7%. In 2015, our results show these devices more than tripling in popularity (25.6%). We saw increases among all wireless devices, regardless of type, manufacturer, and operating system.
These trends reflect a monumental shift in our behavior with regard to mobile computing, and it’s a shift that organizations ought to plan for, because it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.
Most meetings are not BYOD friendly…yet
Unfortunately, only four percent (4%) of respondents answered that most of their meetings centered on shared content support that content being shared wirelessly. So most content-based meetings still don’t support wireless content sharing, but rather they likely (still) depend on the video cable and/or the thumb drive. . This indicates a gap between user behavior (the mobility/BYOD trend) and organizational support/infrastructure. In-room wireless collaboration technology either has not yet been deployed in these cases or is not yet considered a viable solution by decision makers for sharing content in these meeting spaces. So it’s clear that the wireless collaboration market is still maturing, as well as the solutions. However in this case, a survey response that seems ‘negative’ on the surface still has positive implications.
It’s promising that the vast majority of survey responses reflect an inherent need for a product like Solstice, and meeting goers seem to understand the value of content-based BYOD collaboration, even if the majority of decision-makers at the organizational level haven’t gotten behind it yet. When there is strong user demand for a technology, organizations usually eventually fall in line. But the organizations that will benefit the most are those that identify the trend and act quickly to implement solutions, closing the gap between behavior and infrastructure support before it becomes a chasm of productivity.
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