At Zoom, we’re known for meetings. We work tirelessly to make every video meeting a collaborative, frictionless experience. But to keep that experience positive for our customers, we also want our employees to avoid the mental exhaustion that can accompany long hours of hard work.
To make this possible, we have a few programs in place to give our Zoomies more time for uninterrupted work. In fact, we now have an entire day affectionately known internally as No Meeting Wednesday. It’s one of the many ways we deliver happiness and bring our core value of care to life for employees and customers alike.
How the idea was born
Zoom is a company built on caring for one another and ourselves. So, in 2020, when the world needed more care than ever before, Zoomies stepped up to deliver exceptional, round-the-clock customer service. Remote work accelerated into overdrive, and our meeting frequency increased exponentially. Even though our employees faced the same challenges of uncertainty as everyone else, they often sacrificed their own self-care in favor of helping others. But this pace was unsustainable.
To get a pulse on our culture and engagement, we surveyed employees and learned that Zoomies wanted more time to think, plan, focus, and execute. Or simply, more time to work on work. Our leadership assessed the results and, with buy-in from the top-down, No Meeting Wednesday was born.
Although new to Zoom, no-meeting days aren’t uncommon. There are plenty of other companies that do this as well. But for us, it’s more about listening to our employees and considering their needs. It’s our hope that giving team members the freedom to schedule their workload around days with fewer meetings results in better overall balance.
Customer-facing employees may still choose to hold meetings on Wednesdays, as our customers often have needs that can’t wait an extra day. Internal teams aren’t prohibited from meeting either, should the need arise. But, they have the option to push back. Our no-meeting initiative wasn’t designed to be a make-or-break policy but is instead, more about respecting one another’s time and encouraging us to take the mental pause we often forget to schedule. It’s a proactive approach to mindful meetings and encourages us to meet better.
(Do you actually need a meeting? Here are some tips to consider before you call one.)
Teaching employees to “Meet Better”
Although video meetings at Zoom are par for the course, it doesn’t mean every meeting is critical. We surveyed 1,179 U.S. professionals that used audio/video communication platforms like Zoom prior to the pandemic and found that 71% of professionals said the information on some video calls would be better sent in a chat or email.
To make the most of No Meeting Wednesday, we took a closer look at how and why we were meeting to begin with. Teams were asked to evaluate the length, attendee list, and purpose of a meeting before scheduling it. Managers could think differently about 1:1s and set the cadence that was most productive for their work week. These conversations, based on best practices and strategies developed by our Head of Sales Ops and Enablement Hilary Headlee, were used to lay the foundation of our “Meet Better” Triple-A framework.
Meet Better begins by defining a meeting as, “a pre-scheduled gathering of three or more internal people.” An impromptu call to a fellow teammate to clarify something isn’t grounds for a meeting. Neither is a routine status update that can be covered in a chat. However, a project kickoff, brainstorming session, or the need to discuss complex and sensitive information are good reasons to meet. With this lens, employees now consider whether they need to meet or if they can communicate in other ways.
Once a meeting is determined necessary, employees can plan their meetings using Headlee’s “Triple A” approach, which consists of the following:
- Agenda: Employees are asked to create an agenda with specific goals they want to achieve (or conversely, ask for one if not provided) and distribute it before the meeting.
- Attendees: Based on the agenda’s goals and outcomes, determine who is best suited to attend the meeting and who will own it. This prevents people from inviting others just for the sake of inviting them, and strategically think about the audience that will help you achieve a central goal.
- Action items: These determine follow-up or next steps and create alignment between attendees. Ideally, action items are sent via Zoom Chat during or immediately following the meeting.
The problem we were trying to solve was simple, but hard to do. Zoomies were constantly feeling overwhelmed. Unproductive meetings were cited as a problem and we believe the 3A framework, agenda templates, and meeting best practices can help.Hillary Headlee, head of sales ops and enablement
How it’s going
Now that No Meeting Wednesday has been in place for more than a year, we surveyed employees again and found that 84% of Zoomies said they would like to continue No Meeting Wednesday. While some view it as their sacred day, others are open to meetings if need be.
Here’s what some employees had to say about No Meeting Wednesday:
“This is a perfect time during the week to catch up on work that has been put aside because of having so many meetings. It really helps get back on track and finish the week out strong.”
“I love this initiative, it’s helped me immensely to be more productive and follow through on the projects and prospecting efforts that our sales team often talks about during our meetings.”
“No Internal Meeting Wednesday has enabled me to be significantly more productive. I think it’s necessary to continue this program; I would hate to see this end.”
“Having just one uninterrupted day is a huge productivity boost and also reduces stress.”
Fostering our culture of care
It is our hope that giving employees the Meet Better resources and a day off from internal meetings will lead to new efficiencies, increased productivity, and improved customer service. But more than that, we’re continuing to foster our culture of care by encouraging employees to use their Wednesdays and paid time off to recharge. It’s important for us to not just deliver happiness, but recognize the holistic needs of our employees.
Interested in becoming a Zoomie? Come join us. We’re hiring!