How to determine when a meeting can be an email

Employees spend a lot of their time sitting in unproductive meetings. When is it appropriate to send an email instead?

As an employer, you want to give your employees as much time as they need to complete tasks effectively. This becomes more difficult when workers are required to attend long and frequent meetings.

"Meetings are almost a lost art," says Kendall Smardzewski, Division Director of Beacon Hill's Legal Division in Washington, D.C. "An inclusive company culture might be lost when email is too heavily relied upon over face-time, but meetings for the sake of meetings devalue the purpose of engendering a sense of community and buy-in."

While certain meetings are undoubtedly important, many of them are inefficient uses of your employees' time. In a lot of scenarios, rather than gathering the entire team in one room, it makes more sense to send the bullet points to everyone via email.

In a survey of 182 senior managers by the Harvard Business Review, 65% agreed that most meetings only inhibit them from doing their duties. Also, 71% said that they're unproductive.

So when you go to plan your next meeting, here are a few good signs that you should make it an email instead:

When nobody has updates or questions regarding a project, summarize the planned meeting in an email so youre not wasting anyones time.

There are few or no updates

Let's say you and your employees started a project recently and you planned on meeting once a week to track the progress of it. Ask yourself whether or not you have any updates to share on your end, then ask your employees the same.

"If it's not an urgent matter, it can be an email," says C.J. Parziale, Business Development Manager of Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Boston. "If decisions or plans are not being discussed, then email your employees instead so they can remain focused at the tasks they are tackling."

If only one person has one small update, it probably doesn't make sense for all of you to stop what you're doing to meet up and talk about it. Rather, you can send an email with the few pieces of information you do have and encourage your employees to reply with any questions.

You're just trying to get employees up to speed

If your company recently enabled a new policy, summarize the main points of it and attach necessary documents in an email instead of hosting a formal meeting. Having someone read the new policy out loud in a conference room is an inefficient use of time. As an alternative, employees can open the email and read the documents themselves, then reach out if they have any questions.

You need specific questions answered

When you need a few particular pieces of information, you're better off going directly to the employee with the answers rather than scheduling a meeting. Asking them questions, especially ones with highly technical answers, is often times more effective in an email than in a meeting, since they'll have more time to craft a thoughtful response. On-the-spot questions can lead to rushed and incomplete answers.

No visual component is necessary

Do you have a presentation prepared for the meeting? Are there important graphics and designs that you'll need to get your point across? If so, go ahead and schedule the meeting. But if the meeting is going to consist of you just talking and answering questions, turning it into an email will probably be a better use of everyone's time.

Interested in learning more about best practices for planning meetings? Contact professional recruiters at Beacon Hill today!

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

Related Resources