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The rise of virtual meetings during lockdown

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What started in China back in late 2019, and was later introduced to the west during the first few months of 2020, would soon be known as the most disrupted event since WW2.

Covid-19, also referred to as Coronavirus, would have the biggest impact on businesses and livelihoods the modern world had ever seen. Many businesses owners thought they knew what would follow, but only few had a grasp of the full extent of hardship and disruption which came.

Most countries around the world were forced to enact full scale lockdowns of society, which for most businesses meant shutting up shop altogether for weeks – something which would have been completely unbelievable this time last year. For most businesses, this meant all operations were put on hold entirely, while some lucky businesses were able to move some or all of their operations to a remote / online working basis.

Fortunately for these businesses which were able to work remotely, either in part or in full, we now live in a world of technology, meaning they had a variety of tools to help keep business moving. One of the more common tools were apps like Zoom and Skype, used to keep teams in touch and keep projects moving in the right direction – but at what cost?

An HR Solutions company in the UK, CIPHR.com, created a tool to try to understand what the real cost of these additional virtual meetings during lockdown would be, both in terms of time and money, by tracking employees salaries and time spent in virtual meetings.

For example, for a typical office worker earning a £25,000 a year salary, and spending around 1 hour per day in meetings – the cost to the business would be over £260 per month, or around £3,000 per year. The time spent in virtual meetings for such employees per month is the same amount of time it would take to make their own toilet paper at home.

But what about staff who are higher up in the chain of command, who would typically spend a lot more time in meetings? For a CEO who spends 6 hours per day in meetings and earns a salary of £125,000 – the total cost to the business would be almost £8,000 per month. In the time they spend in meetings each month, they could go to the Glastonbury Festival from start to finish!

Commenting on the release of the virtual meeting calculator, David Richter, director of marketing at CIPHR, said: “This new calculator puts a light-hearted spin on the sudden increase of virtual meetings and chat that many organisations are adjusting to.”

“Next time you’re about to send a virtual meeting request, think: could this be an email instead? Is every person on the invitation list genuinely required (or is there anyone important missing)? Will it really take an hour, or will 15 or 30 minutes suffice? And when you’re in a virtual meeting, respect your co-workers’ time and stay on topic. Equally, while chat apps are a great way for colleagues to keep in touch in an informal way, too many notifications can end up being distracting. If you want an answer to a question that’s not urgent, email may be best. And if you need a block of time to focus on an activity, change your notification settings to ‘do not disturb’.”

He added: “Remember, virtual meetings and chat apps are just some of the ways to communicate information; for critical announcements, organisations might find it more effective to use functionality available in specialist HR systems like CIPHR.”



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