With remote work becoming more of the norm, many organizations are trying to cultivate increased productivity for employees—Capacity included. Removing and reducing the number of meetings across the organization is a trend that’s spreading like wildfire. Organizations such as Asana have been ahead of the curve for a little more than seven years now. The goals behind hosting their “No Meetings Wednesdays” are to give team members time to focus on heads-down work and allow everyone, including managers, to be ‘doers’ and ‘makers.’
Whether your organization’s goals align with those at Asana or not, your organization can still experience benefits. At Capacity, we’ve experienced and witnessed the benefits. Tim Yeadon, Capacity’s CRO, implemented no-meeting Fridays for himself and has influenced members of the Marketing Team and the Customer Success team to do the same. The PR company, BLASTMedia, has also implemented “Free Fridays” where their team practices a day of no meetings (both internal and external) to give employees extra time for creativity and deliverables. The community bank, Midwest BankCentre, also participates in no-meeting Fridays. After seeing a LinkedIn post about their initiative, we reached out to see how it has impacted their organization.
In this article, we compare the experiences of three completely different organizations and how they’ve benefited from limiting meetings and dedicating a full day to getting work done.
What made you decide to start doing no meeting Fridays?
Danielle Bateman Girondo, Executive Vice-President of Marketing at Midwest BankCentre, shared that Midwest BankCentre has participated in no-meeting Fridays since mid-2019. “The initiative was introduced by chairman and CEO, Orvin Kimbrough, to reserve at least 20% of our team’s time for thoughtful, strategic work,” said Danielle.“There was immediate buy-in throughout the organization because the initiative came from the top.” To assist in adoption, leadership encouraged everyone to block their calendars. Over time, they found that meetings would start to “creep” back onto Fridays in certain parts of the enterprise, which required gentle reminders about the importance of keeping these days sacrosanct.
Lindsey Groepper, President of BLASTmedia, shared that before implementing “Free Fridays” at their company, they offered half-day “Summer Fridays” between Memorial Day and Labor Day as a way of allowing team members to do things they might not have had time to do. When BLASTmedia transitioned to a WFH workforce in 2020, the number of Zoom calls and micro-meetings skyrocketed. “The increase in meetings meant a decrease in uninterrupted hours available to do focused work,” said Lindsey. “As a result, we found that many of our team members were working through half-day Fridays because it was their only guaranteed no-meeting time.”
By moving to Free Fridays, BLASTmedia plans to extend the flexibility offered to employees and give them a whole day of no meetings to use as they wish. “We trust our team and believe that providing flexibility allows us to do our best work for our clients,” shared Lindsey.
When Capacity was first introduced to no-meeting Friday, it also was shortly after the company transitioned to remote work due to COVID-19. Tim recalls spending 10-12 hours per day on Zoom calls. Though communication is required with remote work, he would find himself with a long list of action items to complete even after working all day. “After a few months of working from home with constant Zoom meetings, I informed the Revenue Team that I was blocking my calendar off on Fridays to focus on completing tasks and encouraged others to do the same,” said Tim.
What benefits have you experienced from no meeting Fridays?
The team at Midwest BankCentre has enthusiastically embraced no meeting Fridays because the benefits are tangible. “I’ve found that my productivity and capacity for creative thought have increased significantly,” shared Danielle. “I particularly look forward to Fridays as I know that I have space and time to fully dedicate myself to working on highly complex or creative projects.” Because of the lack of Zoom meetings, team members also have the flexibility to change their workspace on Fridays to encourage creativity.
BLASTmedia piloted the idea of “no meeting” stretches with individual teams in 2020 and saw an increased demand for it agency-wide due to Zoom fatigue and conflicts brought about by new demands like employees juggling e-learning for their kids. Lindsey shared that the implementation of Free Fridays and their flexible work policies resulted in the BLASTmedia being named to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s Best Places to Work list again in 2021 for the 6th year in a row. “These policies have also helped in recruiting efforts, as the agency has seen an increase in headcount of over 40% since December 2020,” said Lindsey.
While no-meeting Fridays isn’t a company-wide initiative at Capacity, its effects have trickled into many departments. “The more people that get bought into it, means the more benefits that can be experienced throughout the entire team,” expressed Tim. So far, Tim has reduced the amount of work he completes outside of normal business hours and has seen an increase in the quality of work he puts out because he has more time to focus on each said task.
Does your organization have anything else planned to improve productivity?
Midwest BankCentre is continuing to work to optimize collaboration, thinking, and work time to produce the best results for clients and communities. “We ask that meetings be set to 20 or 50 minutes vs. the standard 30 and 60-minute time frames,” said Danielle. “We also ask that each meeting has an agenda sent in advance and that organizers are very intentional about those who they invite.” Moving forward, Midwest BankCentre might even introduce a “no-meeting” or “light meeting” guideline for Mondays as well.
BLASTmedia is continuing to explore additional ways to blend the benefits from remote work options with the intrinsic benefits of being physically together as a team. “2020 has proven we can be productive and do good work from anywhere, but it has also shown how much we value (and miss!) being physically together,” shared Lindsey. “We are consistently re-evaluating and piloting new ideas to keep us connected and productive to best serve our team and our clients.”
With remote work, Tim encourages the adoption of No-meeting Fridays for those in the organization who are looking to increase productivity. If eliminating meetings doesn’t seem appealing, he recommends leadership to host regular 1:1 meetings and team meetings to eliminate incremental pings and one-off meetings on the same topic with multiple team members. “If one person has a question or concern, it’s likely that others do too,” shared Tim.