People sit around wooden table and have meeting

No Meeting Days: Why & How to Implement Them

It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not! No Meeting Days are a real thing. Yes, you read that correctly. A day where there are no meetings on the schedule and everyone can focus on the work that needs to get done rather than meeting about what needs to get done. For a concept that is so simple, it does feel quite revolutionary to many.

Companies such as Facebook and Atlassian have been the leaders in terms of implementing No Meeting Days. These No Meeting Days let employees focus on their work and talk to their coworkers only when it is convenient for them, instead of being limited by a set schedule.

Atlassian conducted research into how meetings can be a time drain and stand in the way of productivity. And while meetings will always have their place within the world of business, the findings were quite shocking. Of the study, 45% of people felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of meetings they attended, 73% admitted to doing other work while in meetings, with an additional 39% admitted to sleeping in meetings.

Nearly half of the respondents (47%) also complained that meetings were the biggest time waster in all offices.

What is a No Meeting Day?

While the above is a succinct way of looking at it, a No Meeting Day started as a disruptor movement. It was a way for people to focus on their work and avoid the temptation of yet another meeting where they could potentially zone out. It has since become a popular concept due to its efficacy in allowing teams to take control of their own time and be more productive.

The concept has since spread exponentially and the MIT Sloan Management Review even conducted a study which among many other benefits, even companies that introduced a single no-meeting day once a week were able to see a marked improvement in autonomy, efficiency, and a huge decrease in perceived micromanagement and stress.

Ultimately, no meeting days = happy days!

The study looked at 76 companies with some sort of No Meeting Day in effect (No Meeting Friday, No Meeting Thursday, etc.) and then spoke to a range of people across senior management, and looked at a range of quantitative data both before and after the implementation of the schemes.

The figures were startling. By ringfencing a single day each week as a No Meeting Day. productivity increased on average by 35%. For those who had opted for two days, this increased to 71%, increasing even further to 73%. The data then levels out but suggests that around three days of No Meetings per week is the optimum balance, leading to an increase in output, productivity, and overall happiness of the employees.

Why Should You Implement No Meeting Days?

No Meeting Days offer benefits to teams of all sizes. Not only do they encourage employees to take control of their own time, but they also allow for more collaboration and creativity by giving people the chance to think deeply about projects. They are also a great way to harness the power of concepts such as Deep Work.

For example, if you have a No Meeting Friday every week it allows everyone to work without interruption or distraction from meetings which could be beneficial for things like planning, strategizing, and generally getting on top of tasks you wouldn’t otherwise have time for.

Additionally, No Meeting Days can help reduce stress levels, improve mental well-being and foster better communication between team members. Approaching working life in a more thoughtful and measured way, and harnessing other ideas such as asynchronous communication and working, allows for a much more natural flow of work. This also benefits international teams and ensures that some days people don’t need to all be present at the same time which makes managing time differences a lot easier.

How Do You Implement No Meeting Days?

The idea behind implementing a No Meeting Day is simple: no one schedules meetings on that day. It may sound easier said than done, but it’s not difficult at all.

First and foremost, make sure everyone knows about No Meeting Days and the benefits of having them implemented in your organization. Make sure to explain why this concept is important and how it will help people focus on their tasks better.

A good way to ensure success with No Meeting Days is to set up an agreed-upon day or days each week where no meetings are allowed (e.g., No Meeting Fridays). This way, everyone knows when their “day off” is and can plan accordingly.

Encourage communication outside of meetings by using tools like Slack or instant messaging applications to keep everyone connected. Also, make sure people are aware of what tasks need to get done in advance so they can plan accordingly and avoid having unnecessary meetings.

One great way of doing this is by using a tool such as tl;dv and creating action points during a meeting that people can refer back to – either using video, timestamps, or the transcription features.

Once you’ve decided on a No Meeting Day (or days), make sure everyone knows about it. Post reminders throughout the office, send out emails or Slack messages or host an informal meeting in the run-up to the day itself to discuss the benefits of No Meeting Days with your team.

Make sure everyone understands why this concept is important and how it will help them become more productive and creative.

Any Disadvantages of No Meeting Days?

Of course, there’s always the chance that No Meeting Days may not work for everyone. Some people might find it difficult to stay focused when not in meetings and may need more structure or guidance. Additionally, some tasks are better-discussed face-to-face than over instant messaging apps or emails, so important conversations could be missed if no meetings are allowed.

It is also important to note that No Meeting Days don’t mean “no communication day”. Rather, the concept means that meetings should be limited or eliminated during these days and collaboration efforts should focus on non-meeting activities like async communication and brainstorming, task management, documentation and chat messaging.

Adjusting and implementing the concept of a No Meeting Day, or multiple No Meeting Days requires a change of mindset across a whole business. You may find that some individuals may fear that without regular check-ins, or chances to catch up with everybody, standards could slip. This does however raise questions as to the original working structure and mindset in the first place. If employees cannot be trusted to get on with their work or hold each other accountable, then there may be other deeper issues that need addressing.

The Async Revolution

While many can’t simply start dropping meetings three days a week, there are other ways to limit the amount of meeting overwhelm that employees face from meetings – required or otherwise.

Asynchronous communication – where everyone can work at their own pace and collaborate as needed could allow for maximum productivity, and minimum meeting fatigue.

Async tools such as tl;dv offer the perfect platform for asynchronous collaboration, allowing multiple people to work on projects together without having to be online at the same time. No matter if your meetings are conducted via Zoom, Google Meet, or even in-office, the tool can help track and document all communication to be shared out accordingly.

It also allows employees to be more productive in their tasks and create better-quality outcomes due to less distraction from unproductive meetings. Meetings can occur without everybody and be caught up at a time, place, and frame of mind that leads to maximum efficiency. 

Ultimately, the goal of a No Meeting Day is to create more time and space for meaningful work by eliminating meetings that are unnecessary or unproductive. It’s important to remember that any change like this should come from an initiative of employees as well as management to succeed and make it a long-term cultural shift. 

Why not give No Meeting Days a try and see how it changes your workflow? You may be surprised by the results.