The impact different styles of meetings have around idea generation

Idea generation is more effective when meetings are conducted face to face as opposed to via video conference, a study finds.

The average office worker across the UK spends the equivalent of 208 hours per year in meetings. But, when it comes to finding out how productive some of these meetings actually are, a new survey reveals environments and different personalities can have a significant impact on performance output levels.

The ‘Meetings Psychology Study’, commissioned by Radisson Blu, aimed to discover what impact different styles of meetings have around idea generation, intellect and judgment.

According to the research, almost half of the nation (43 per cent) leave most meetings, feeling they are pointless.

Patrick Fagan, an associate lecturer in consumer behaviour at Goldsmiths University undertook the study with 25 groups of volunteers. Each group of five was placed in one of three everyday work scenarios, which included a video conference call, a standard meeting room and an ‘enhanced’ meeting room environment, the latter featuring walls to write on, bright colours to spark the brain, flexible furniture layout and amenities to help stimulate ideas.

Participants were asked to complete three activities relating to creativity, intellective and judgment tasks, and their level of engagement and mood were also monitored, as well as their claimed and actual performance.

While all participants claimed their performance would not differ across different environments and that their group’s performance would be equal, the actual data did not support this.

The results conclude that when meeting face to face in an enhanced meeting room, idea generation produces a return on investment that is 61 per cent higher than a video conference call, and 31 per cent higher than a standard meeting room.

Meeting bugbears

Additionally, the biggest gripes about meetings are also highlighted in further research conducted by Radisson Blu. To support Patrick Fagan’s study, a survey of 2,000 UK adults reveals that the most annoying habits conducted by other colleagues in meetings are having a dominant person in the room that always shouts the loudest (40 per cent), and people not turning up on time (24 per cent).

Furthermore, a quarter of UK office workers (25 per cent) are most annoyed by meetings running late.

When it comes to disclosing what their own worst attributes are during conference calls and colleague get-togethers, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the nation admit to being easily distracted and bored, and a further 13 per cent admit to just making meaningless doodles instead of taking notes during conference calls.

However overall, two thirds (65 per cent) of those polled still think face-to-face meetings were more productive than conference calls.

Fagan says, ‘Workers trying to come up with answers to business problems on a conference call, are likely to be more submissive to other workers, due to an inability to judge their disposition.

‘There also appears to be a reduced ability for interpersonal interaction on a video conference call, and a more rigid, inflexible and practical state of mind. This can lead to reduced effectiveness and ultimately, a low return on investment for the meeting.’

Malcolm Rann, regional director, of Radisson Blu UK adds, ‘There has been a growth in remote working across the UK and Ireland, and with businesses having offices located in different parts of the country, video and teleconferencing has become a big part of daily life.

‘This study demonstrates that in order to be productive and most effective, there is still a genuine reason to make meetings face-to-face, but to also be aware of the different types of personalities in the room and how to handle those situations.’

Further reading on meetings

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