How Form3 holds effective meetings

People· 4min

November 7, 2022

Everything changes. This is especially true in business and technology. Form3 operates in a dynamic environment, one where we consistently pivot and adapt to remain ahead of the curve.  

That being said, there are aspects of our working lives that haven’t adapted to the times quite as well. Meetings are a perfect example of this. 

They can be an incredibly effective tool to get teams to collaborate and advance organisational objectives. Which begs the question, why are they so often disliked? 

The universally known phrase, ‘this meeting could’ve been an email’, summarises our collective experience well. Too many meetings, that are too long and without any purpose to them. 

However, at Form3 we have taken steps to ensure that every meeting is an effective one. 

Read on to learn how we achieved this. 

Listening to our teams 

Before proposing any changes, we made sure to consult our entire staff base on how we were doing – what is good about how we hold meetings, what we need to change, and what suggestions they have. This was a critical step for us as, we aim to put our staff at the centre of everything we do, and their insights were instrumental in developing our new way of approaching meetings. 

25 is the new 30 

The first thing we changed was to reduce the default meeting length, from 30 minutes to 25 minutes. Even still, we want to normalise meetings from anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes! The logic is that no one should have back-to-back meetings, without have a chance to make notes and reflect, or more importantly to stretch their legs and switch off their brain.  

Additionally, we developed guidance on how to: 

  • Decide if a meeting is necessary. 
  • Set clear expectations on the purpose of your meeting. 
  • Schedule meetings. 
  • Actively manage meetings. 
  • Agree & communicate action points.

Training package 

The next challenge we faced is how to package this information and ensure successful implementation across the business. The solution was to develop a brand new eLearning course, that brought our new guidelines to life. In order to create a richer blend of learning, this was complimented by a new resource section on our online People Hub, this included templates and more information about some of the topics discussed. 

Helping hand from technology 

As a remote first company we utilise tools like Outlook, Zoom and Slack throughout our working day, and in turn they are used in every meeting we hold. So, we set out to find out how they can work better for us, what settings can be adapted and what integrations can be taken advantage of. As a result, we developed a list of tips and recommendations and created a tutorial video displaying how to activate them. This training ended up providing time saving shortcuts to our teams and worked to reinforce the new guidelines communicated in the earlier eLearning module. 

A new way of communicating 

Before we conclude, we need to mention asynchronous communication. This topic was raised by several of our Engineers during our research and analysis phase. To quickly summarise this almost the opposite of a traditional meeting. Nothing happens in real time, tools like Slack and email are used to communicate and pass work back and forth. The benefit comes from team members responding when they are ready, rather than being put on the spot. If you consider that we work in an international and remote first environment, then this method of working starts to make a lot of sense. 

Whilst we haven’t fully embraced asynchronous communication, we can appreciate that some of our Engineering teams may wish to implement this type of communication, and so we have provided a collection of resources for them to learn more from. 

Adapting & Evolving 

These new standards have proven to be effective in how we manage our meetings and maximise our time. However, an important value at Form3 is, High Standards, this means we are on a journey of continuous improvement. The way we work is constantly changing and we are committed to adapting and evolving alongside it. So, we’ll keep listening to our teams to make sure that our next meeting is an effective one! 

Written by

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Kevin Crawford Senior Learning & Development Partner

Kevin is a Senior Learning & Development Partner at Form3 and based in Edinburgh!