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How to go meet-less with Confluence

Work management

Most meetings are a waste of time. There – we said it! This fact shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has sat (or daydreamed, multi-tasked, or even slept) through a seemingly pointless meeting.

How many meetings did you have today that were really just status updates, or a regular standing meeting with no agenda? Research shows that 67% of workers say too much time in meetings distracts them from doing their job, which comes at a cost – U.S. companies waste $399 billion on pointless meetings. So if we know that meetings are often a waste of time (and money), why do we continue to schedule them?

If it’s uncertainty about how to go meet-less that’s holding you back, fear not! We turned to the Atlassian Community to crowdsource their best practices, solutions, and tried and true tips for going meet-less.

Opt for asynchronous collaboration in Confluence

Real time feedback

“I’ve found that most of the time a well-maintained Confluence page replaces [the need for a status meeting].” – Daniel Ebers, Atlassian Community leader

Atlassian Community leaders Daniel Ebers and Andy Barker believe effective documentation, knowledge-sharing, project and asynchronous collaboration in Confluence can meet the need for most common meetings. Encouraging his team to “use templates really wisely and fill them in properly” paid off for Barker’s team when they were able to collaboratively complete their Retrospective template in place of a Retro meeting.

Next time you launch a new project, use Confluence’s Project management template collection to keep your team in sync. Ebers says there may be an initial adjustment period as teams refine their processes for using Confluence pages instead of status update meetings. But with time teams become comfortable knowing all necessary information can be found on a Confluence page.

For ad-hoc discussions, documentation is key, says Ebers. “For a standard question, no more meetings are required, how-tos and guides are documented and can be read through by teams looking for detailed help.”

TIPS FOR REPLACING MEETINGS WITH ASYNCHRONOUS COLLABORATION IN CONFLUENCE
  • Use the Project management template collection to keep your team informed and aligned as you collaborate on a project.
  • Use the Task Report macro to add, assign, and view tasks.
  • Use the Decision Report macro to keep track of decisions your team has made.
  • Use macros to add development info such as Jira charts and roadmaps to your Confluence pages.
  • “For those who use Jira and Confluence to track work and collect knowledge, my best tip for having fewer meetings is taking the time to build out informative Confluence Overview Pages with the use of effective macros and Jira dashboards. Giving teammates a hub saves so much time and they’ll feel confident tackling their assigned work knowing the resources they are referencing are the latest and greatest!” – Andrew Kendris, Atlassian Community leader

Pick a communication tool

Chat bubbles

“Make it clear which is your favored [method of communication] and that you’re happy to be bothered via it, especially if it’s a question or conversation that might save you [from having a meeting].” – Nic Brough, Atlassian Community leader

Establishing a team’s single source of truth can increase clarity, save time, and even prevent meetings by ensuring everyone is properly informed. In the same way, setting the standards for where communication takes place minimizes confusion and fosters greater alignment. With seemingly countless ways to contact coworkers, it’s important to set precedents for where communication should take place.

TIPS FOR STREAMLINING COMMUNICATION
  • Use Atlassian’s Team Playbook for Stakeholder Communications to establish a comms plan for your team that identifies the frequency, audience and channels for communicating types of information.
  • Use work management and collaboration tools like Atlassian Community member Karen Lewis whose team used to run a roadmap update session once per Sprint to keep the team informed about progress but is now encouraging team members to reference the Jira roadmap link instead.
  • View and update Confluence pages where your team’s conversation happens by integrating your favorite team communication tools with Confluence.

Stay on track with the Weekly meeting notes template

Weekly meeting templates

“We try to only have meetings to get things done…overcome an issue, get help on a problem, make a decision, etc. [If] we do not have an agenda out prior the meeting usually gets cancelled.” – Brant Schroeder, Atlassian Community leader

The Weekly meeting notes template makes it easy to set agendas, review past meeting minutes, identify action items, and track outcomes, providing a space for teams to collaborate asynchronously so meetings are brief and to-the-point.

TIPS FOR COLLABORATING ON MEETING NOTES IN CONFLUENCE
  • “We use the Weekly Meeting Notes template…to prepare an agenda beforehand that everyone can add to. We ask that all items be on the meeting notes one day prior so individuals can come prepared to discuss. We then keep notes on it during the meeting. This provides a record of what was discussed, decisions that were made, etc. We then have something we can reference and that others who were not able to attend the meeting can review.” – Brant Schroeder, Atlassian Community leader
  • Foster collaborative meetings by allowing participants to contribute agenda items.
    • Atlassian Community member Mechee suggests incorporating relevant documentation into the agenda (e.g. “review the current user manual layout structure”) as a means of encouraging stakeholders to offer higher priority agenda items.
  • Share your agenda with all participants prior to meeting so everyone has time to review and contribute.
  • Assign action items to relevant parties for clarity on what attendees need to prepare.
  • Integrate Jira projects and Trello boards to quickly track work.
    • “We took [the Weekly Meetings Template] a step further by building some JQL to pull in open issues from our Jira projects. We were able to jump right into topics/action items and have access to the latest information in the fields shown in our macro.” – Andrew Kendris, Atlassian Community leader
    • Atlassian Community leader Laura Holton recommends utilizing Trello to provide scope for meetings.

And it goes without saying – “Only hold the meeting [if attendees have added discussion items] to the meeting template.” – Jimmy Seddon, Atlassian Community leader. Otherwise, cancel the meeting.

Organize meeting notes for accessibility

File cabinet

“We have minutes pages for different types of meetings (e.g. customer status, internal development) and these are organized into chronological instances using headings.” – Jared Olson, Atlassian Community member

Meeting notes are only useful if they are readily available for reference. Build a system to organize meeting notes based on objective, meeting type, or other key features so they can be quickly and easily located by team members.

TIPS FOR ORGANIZING MEETING NOTES
  • Organize pages, attachments and even spaces with keyword labels such as meeting type.
  • Use the Page Tree macro to display related pages such as all meeting notes for a project.
  • Use the Table of Contents macro to help readers quickly locate information by summarizing content and linking to page headings.
  • Link to specific parts of a Confluence page (not just headings) with the Anchor macro.

Limit the length of meetings

Stopwatch

“I can’t count how many times folks book an hour meeting for what is going to be a 10-20 minute session max. I have to go back to them and propose the new time with bulleted thoughts we can discuss.” – Ed Gaile, Atlassian Community leader

Attention spans generally start to wane 15-20 minutes into a meeting, so lean into tools for asynchronous collaboration (Confluence pages! Agendas!) and make short, collaborative meetings the default.

TIPS FOR LIMITING THE LENGTH OF MEETINGS
  • Allocate half of the time that you usually would for a meeting (e.g. 30 minutes instead of an hour).
  • Minimize tangents by creating and sharing agendas for timely, well-defined meetings.
  • Change your calendar settings to reduce default meeting length by five or ten minutes.

Only agree to necessary meetings

Scales

“If you’re in a meeting with me, you aren’t able to do the work needed to keep the project moving.” – Andrew Kendris, Atlassian Community leader

This may seem straightforward, but if everyone actually practiced this, we wouldn’t be spending 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. So let’s improve your routine for not scheduling meetings.

How? Infrastructure. Establish a system that prompts requesters and invitees to evaluate the necessity of a meeting before putting it on the calendar. Using an invitation request form or template encourages all parties to think critically about whether or not asynchronous collaboration could achieve the same outcome. It also helps to normalize rejecting meeting invitations in favor of asynchronous collaboration.

TIPS FOR EVALUATING THE NECESSITY OF A MEETING
  • Atlassian Community leader Dave Liao suggests “When someone tries to schedule time with you, have them fill out a short meeting request form. The requester should be able to describe what they’re looking for in 1-2 sentences, and what they hope to get from meeting with you. Ideally you can resolve their request asynchronously!”
    • A form or template includes the meeting objective and goal(s), what attendees need to prepare in advance, and links to necessary reference information. If requesters aren’t able to complete the form, hold off on putting time on the calendar.

Designate a no-meeting day

Scheduling

Meet-less Mondays, Focus Fridays, or Get $#!t Done days – whatever you call them, designated meeting-free days are a simple solution to encourage meet-less culture in your organization. With meeting fatigue at an all-time high, dedicated time for deep work is critical for increasing productivity, as well as preventing employee burnout and improving the health and wellness of your team.

Implementation is simple – pitch it to your team, pick a day, and revel in the feeling of uninterrupted work time to access your flow state. For teams that are concerned about the feasibility of slashing meetings, leaning into collaboration tools is key. Confluence empowers teams to move work forward while foregoing meetings.

TIPS FOR BLOCKING OUT TIME FOR DEEP WORK
  • Weigh your options in selecting which weekday to designate as meeting-free – there’s evidence in favor of Meet-less Mondays, while others advocate for a mid-week break or time to wrap up and prepare for the following week on Fridays.
  • Don’t limit yourself to one day a week – block time on your calendar regularly for deep work so others see it, don’t schedule on it, and hopefully start to perpetuate the habit!

Allocate time for socializing outside of meetings

Video call

We’re all for doing away with pointless meetings in favor of meetings that are actually worthwhile. However, less scheduled face time shouldn’t equal less connectedness – establishing a sense of mutual respect and connection is critical for the health of teams. This is especially important for remote, distributed, and hybrid teams.

Atlassian Community leader Nic Brough suggests declassifying certain ritual meetings as meetings, since they lack an agenda, work progression, or outcome beyond simply socializing with teammates. Instead, make a point to create structured opportunities for team socialization outside of meetings.

TIPS FOR MAKING TIME FOR TEAMS TO SOCIALIZE
  • Take a page from Atlassian’s book of the best virtual team-building activities or rituals proven to keep your team connected.
  • Embrace virtual substitutes for informal office socialization like coffee chats.
    • Atlassian Community leader Jimmy Seddon’s team adopted “an open 30 minute Zoom call for [team members] to drop in or out to chat with people before starting work for the day.”

Improve team culture with fewer meetings

With these actionable tips for adopting the meet-less culture, you can start collaborating asynchronously with Confluence for fewer, shorter meetings and a healthier and happier team. Start for free today!

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