Build a better meeting with the right technology

They say that time is money. However, according to a new survey carried out by ShoreTel, Hong Kongers are wasting a worryingly large amount of this precious commodity on something that should be simple – organizing productive meetings!

ShoreTel’s “Build a Better Meeting” survey, which canvassed the meeting habits and productivity preferences of nearly 500 respondents in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, found that over a third (37%) of Hong Kong respondents felt their meetings were completely unproductive. Only 11% rated their meetings as very productive, compared with 26% in Australia and 29% in Singapore.

In addition, less than half (41%) of Hong Kongers admitted to fully participating in meetings, with nearly a third (30%) citing that they are routinely side-tracked by dealing with other work at the same time. Hong Kong workers also appear to be the most easily distracted by private matters, with 16% admitting to checking personal emails, social media or texting during in meetings.

Technology challenges

On top of battling distractions, technology also plays a key role in meeting productivity (or lack thereof). With 83% of Hong Kong workers spending at least one day outside of the office per month working remotely or via mobile, meetings are increasingly being conducted via phone or the web, rather than in person. Yet, in supposedly tech-savvy Hong Kong, nearly a third (30%) of respondents reported spending 11 to 15 minutes struggling to set up their meeting technology, and 10% spent even longer.

Over the course of weeks and months, that adds up to over 50 working hours per year just managing the logistics of setting up meetings - time that could be spent more productively on discussing key business challenges and finding solutions.

Bandwidth issues and Internet problems (39%), combined with unclear or missing details on local dial-ins or access points (26%) were the main barriers preventing Hong Kong firms from getting the most out of meeting technology. Additionally, 16% cited outdated technology as a challenge.

Technology triumphs

It is clear that communication technologies are transforming the workplace and the ways we interact with each other. But, as survey respondents clearly indicated, not every solution is easy to use. What’s more, trying to use a host of standalone communication tools presents additional problems for IT teams and users.

A good unified communications system takes the best features of each technology – IP phones, conferencing, video, digital document sharing, chat and mobility – and combines them in a single solution that enables individuals to collaborate seamlessly wherever they are and using whichever channel is the most convenient and effective.

This makes meetings easier to set up and virtual interactions more natural, which increases productivity and greatly streamlines workflows.

But, that’s just the beginning of the story. To take full advantage of the productivity benefits that unified communications can offer, businesses must identify and roll out meaningful applications that can be used efficiently on-the-go. Mobilizing the simpler tasks first is a smart way to ensure usability and adoption; then your organisation can look for ways to make more complex operations as simple as possible on-the-go.

Getting communications right has never been more important. As the “Build a Better Meeting” survey shows, many Hong Kong companies are losing a great deal of time to unproductive meetings, however there are plenty of opportunities to eliminate inefficiency.

Easy, modern unified communications technology and thoughtful meeting preparation are the keys to building better, more productive meetings that all attendees will find valuable.