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Fewer, Better Meetings

Caitlin Loos | VP, Marketing

October 7, 2021

After nearly two decades of a remote-first ethos, Phase2 has learned that remote is not just about figuring out time zones using Slack and mastering your Zoom filters —  it is about building an intentional remote culture. And, while the leaves are falling around us this autumn, after 18 months of a pandemic, remote work appears to be evergreen. 

As we reflected on our remote culture in early 2021, there were plenty of areas where our remote culture thrived, and we shared it with the world — from our remote culture playbook to our reflections on remote life and work to planning and facilitating superlative virtual events

But there was one area where we were faltering. Beyond the ubiquitous Zoom fatigue, meetings had become our default for how we solved problems and communicated with each other. And that resulted in calendars that looked like this: 

Examples of Google calendars filled to the max

While we all joke about how busy our calendars are, we found this to be too high a cost, robbing us of our most efficient, productive, and resourceful time.

We took on the challenge to increase the quality of our meetings and the way we engaged with each other and our clients, to prioritize the focus time that would allow us to do our best work, and to design a meetings culture that was at the forefront of remote work. 

In short — fewer, better meetings

A Shared Purpose 

"The biggest mistake we make when we gather is to assume that the purpose is obvious and shared."  - Priya Parker

“Meet with Intention” has been a mantra throughout this project, and it has resulted in incredible rewards. We are spending less time in meetings, and the time we do spend is more focused, connected, and valuable, sending us off invigorated. 

As a result, our clients are benefiting from meetings that are designed to create an engaging experience and to get the most from our time together.  

For candidates looking to join Phase2 and for our current employees, this new meeting culture allows people to prioritize focus and create the conditions to do their best work. We are empowered to own our calendar. 

Meeting Differently 

Beginning this fall and moving forward, participants in Phase2 meetings will notice: 

  • We default to ad-hoc meetings. Recurring meetings are the exception, not the rule. 
  • We identify the meeting type. Every invitation is labeled with one of our five standard meeting types, and each type has standard agreements that all participants commit to. 
  • We prioritize inclusivity. For most of our meetings, no one speaks a third time until everyone has meaningfully contributed to the conversation. 
  • We rate our meetings*. Each participant rates our collective performance at the end of each meeting. We give each other candid, real time feedback.  
  • We do not have meetings on Tuesdays. We are using our newly clean calendars for Focus Tuesday, which allows us the space we need to do excellent work. 

And these changes are just the start. 

Our new meetings culture has been a work in progress — starting with months of research, planning, company-wide training, and an ongoing internal adoption campaign. It has taken plenty of practice and tinkering to get it right so we can be well-practiced experts as we share our meeting culture with our clients and partners. 

"I am proud our culture can identify something that  is holding us back, or keeping us from our best work, and create a clear way to address it." - Jeff Walpole, CEO

The Future of Remote-First Culture 

The auspicious timing of Google calendar’s meetings insights feature is helping us to see in plain view what we are already experiencing — the initiative is working. 

Early surveying of a segment of Phase2 employees tells us that 84% notice improvement in meeting quality, 77% have more focus time, and 62% feel more comfortable declining unnecessary meetings.

"I've definitely noticed a decrease in the amount of meetings/distributed meetings, and I'm getting larger blocks of deep work time back in my day. Thank you for the initiative!" - Nadia Saleh, UX Designer

Bringing our meetings culture to our external clients and partners is the next step in our leadership in remote culture, and we are incredibly excited for a future of fewer, better meetings together. Keep an eye out for more meeting culture wisdom in the coming months!

We hope you enjoyed reading the Phase2 blog! Please subscribe below for regular updates and industry insights.

*This part of our meetings initiative builds on a ritual from the Entrepreneurial Operating System.

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