Chances are most meetings do not start on time within your enterprise. This might seem innocuous, but it impacts employee productivity and the overall meeting experience. And it has a cumulative effect – employees may be late because a previous meeting didn’t start on time and then ran over.

Meetings are supposed to improve productivity, efficiency, teamwork, communication and collaboration. When meetings do not start on time, the benefits of the meeting are significantly reduced, if not eliminated. Inefficient meetings waste your employee’s most valuable and limited resource – their time. And as studies show, a staggering $37 billion is wasted each year on unproductive meetings.

This isn’t a new issue. Even when everyone is supposed to be in the same room, a meeting can start a few minutes late. So it’s important to start with the basics. Does your organization have a laid-back culture that makes arriving 5 minutes after the start time the norm? Are many of the meetings being set without a clear objective or agenda? Are employees overscheduled, with back-to-back meetings all day long? Employees may be quick to blame the technology for delays, but it’s important to consider human factors as well.

On top of the traditional issues, the way many enterprises conduct business today is certainly increasing the complexity of collaboration. Meeting participants are joining from locations all over the world and from a diverse set of devices – e.g. audio, desktop and mobile. IT is building heterogeneous, best-of-breed UC environments and groups within the business use department budgets to purchase shadow communication tools. This medley of technology, platforms, and endpoints can create havoc when trying to bring teams together and can lead to a poor meeting experience.

According to a recent Forrester Consulting study, “about 94 percent of employees report that they encounter an issue when conducting technology-enabled meetings.” Consider this: If a meeting has a nine-minute start delay, and each employee only participates in one meeting a day, that’s 2,250 minutes or over 37 hours of lost productivity each year!

So how can you, as an IT leader, be more involved to improve the overall meeting experience?

WorkSpace Today connected with Amy Barzdukas, Vice President, Global Solutions at Polycom to discuss these modern challenges impacting meetings today. Below are three tips she shares based on her invaluable experience working with teams across the globe to help solve this dilemma:

Invest in the right technology

Many collaboration technologies claim to have the ability to bring together standards-based endpoints, but give little consideration to the user experience in diverse environments. In some cases, joining a meeting means dialing the IP address of an endpoint to bring it into a call. In others, content will be visible to some participants, but not all of them. The process for joining a call might also differ depending on whether someone is entering from a conference room, from his or her desktop, or from inside or outside the company’s firewall, making the instructions complex and easily misinterpreted.

IT leaders must look for solutions that not only make joining a call and sharing content simple but integrates with the communication tools their workforce is already using. Polycom RealConnect for Skype for Business for example, seamlessly brings together standards-based video endpoints from multiple vendors and all participants can join with a single click of a button.


Make sure employees know how to use the technology

IT leaders cannot assume employees know how to use new technology; they must show employees how the collaboration technologies work. Short, simple instructional videos housed in an internal library will give employees the opportunity to learn how to use the tech before they walk into the meeting room or fire up the app, while signs in the room or laminated instructions on the table for common functions (how to adjust volume, for example) can reduce support calls. Setting up lunch and learns as part of any new solution rollout is another great practice that can help with adoption and get meetings going quickly.

In conjunction, with many employees being new to using video regularly, IT leaders might consider informing employees on a few proper vidiquette techniques to improve the overall video meeting, such as when to use the mute button, things to watch for when joining from home or public places, and the importance of having fewer distractions in the background. Another good tip is to explain to employees when to go from video to audio, especially if the bandwidth is too low:

“One general rule – if you have a low bandwidth connection then turn off your video and go straight to audio only. No one likes to see someone talking when his or her face is paused.”

Set a convention for joining virtual meetings

When meeting participants know where to look for the dial-in information and what the joining process looks like, meetings can start quickly. Ideally, users should be able to just touch a button from the tool, app or program they are already using.

The convention starts with the placement of the call information on the calendar invite. When you are joining a call from your mobile device, for example, putting “See below” in the meeting location and requiring mobile participants to navigate to the meeting notes is frustrating and time-consuming.

“Whether employees are calling in via audio or video, you need to simplify the invite rather than have people go hunting and pecking. Have a consistent invite where the info is going to be accessed to join the calls.”

Using the right collaborative technology won’t assure every meeting will start on time. However, integrating technologies that make it easy for your employees to join calls, making sure employees know how to use the technology, and establishing conventions, will help employees get the most benefit from the collaborative time in their workday.