Of everything that technology has changed in our professional lives, meetings still remain the same. Sure, we have online video meetings now, but the structure of meetings hasn’t changed since the days of our parents and grandparents—and that’s a problem.
Conventional meetings are wrought with friction and productivity hurdles, which end up costing US businesses $30 billion collectively every year. To top it off, we’re having more meetings today than ever before. Luckily, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
As work evolves and technology continues to mature, we’ll begin to see fundamental shifts in how meetings are run. In fact, we predict that advancements will completely change the where, when, how, and why of meetings in just the next few years.
Here are our predictions for what meetings will look like by 2025.
1. Digital assistants will handle our basic administrative work.
The technology for digital assistants already exists, and the only thing that’s stopping them from becoming our personal executive assistants is AI training and human trust. You likely either own or have seen personal assistants like Siri and Alexa in action before. They can turn on your lights, start your stoves, and even reply to text messages. And soon, they’ll be wiping out your meetings.
Here’s how AI could handle our Monday mornings:
- Provide a recap of last week’s work.
- Write up reports on our work and send them to key stakeholders and managers.
- Scan our calendars.
- Determine what we need from other people.
- Communicate with others’ AI assistants to schedule meetings.
- Search for the information we need to complete our work.
This effectively eliminates the need for several types of meetings: stakeholder updates, briefings, information sharing, coordination, and planning.
2. Meetings will be shorter and contextual.
With AI handling our administrative tasks, we’re left with more freedom to focus on the human side of work—ideation, creativity, and collaboration. Because conventional meetings hamper these uniquely human skills, businesses will eventually migrate away from conventional meetings and move toward more fluid meetings that we dip in and out of, like being part of a continual conversation.
To support these lightweight, check-in style meetings, organizations will start consolidating their communications apps—messaging, video, and phone—into a single platform, where video meetings will live side by side with team messaging and provide instant context before, during, and after every meeting. When all communications (e.g., messaging history, files, links) exist in a single platform, information is easily accessible at all times, allowing for shorter and more productive meetings.
3. Meetings will be held on top of the Burj Khalifa and anywhere in the world.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Ready Player One, you know that virtual reality (VR) has been a futuristic dream for gamers and sci-fi geeks alike. The great thing is, VR technology already exists, although it’s at a primitive and cost-prohibitive stage.
As the technology surrounding VR becomes more available, we’ll start to see businesses have some fun with VR. Early adopters will simulate real offices for employees and real stores for customers, where employees can attend “in-person” meetings and customers can “visit” virtual shops. Once people become more accustomed to VR, organizations will start simulating more authentic and immersive experiences. Imagine how much more effective marketers would be at promoting a hotel room if they could experience it themselves?
In the future, meetings could be held on the top floor of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world. Why stop there? Hold them on the moon. VR will completely change where meetings take place, even if you’re simply strapped into a headset at home.
4. We’ll stay focused during meetings and produce better results.
Our brains are bombarded with attention-demanding apps, alerts, and content every day. It’s no wonder we’re having more trouble staying focused. Studies show that during meetings, 90% of people report daydreaming and 73% report doing unrelated work. Needless to say, our attention spans are evolving, and the workforce of tomorrow requires a different approach to meetings than the one we’ve been using for the past century.
Here’s where neuroscience comes in. With a better understanding of the human brain, organizations will restructure how information is presented in meetings. Repetition is excellent for learning retention, so meeting facilitators could preview the content of the meeting, deliver the information, and then recap what was said. Similarly, we can expect to see an increase in presentations that utilize visual content (e.g. videos, diagrams, illustrations) as they’re easier to digest and remember compared to words.
This will help us move beyond conventional, unproductive meetings toward meetings that maximize efficiency and are full of substance.
5. Workspaces will be designed for collaboration at every turn.
MIT’s Building 20 was notorious for being an incubator of innovation. Built during World War II for war-related research and used by the school post-war, Building 20 was constructed without any care for design or the fire code. The interior layout was infamously hard to navigate, which led to many academics constantly wandering into other departments and meeting new people, which facilitated new intellectual discussions.
The result? Building 20’s occupants won nine Nobel Prizes in just 20 years. Who knew that chance encounters could foster such collaboration?
Tomorrow’s buildings will feel a lot like Building 20, albeit without the fire code violations and labyrinthine layout. Designs will focus on encouraging employees to work together. Expect to see a lot of unusual workplaces filled with shared spaces. And with an increasing number of the workforce being remote, offices will increasingly shrink.
Your communications solution will be essential to the future of work.
By 2025, businesses will move away from conventional meetings in favor of contextual meetings that reduce friction, eliminate administrative meetings, save time, and allow employees to focus on the tasks they were hired to do. Essentially, we’ll have fewer meetings that go by a lot quicker.
For contextual meetings to happen, employees need a space where they can communicate and collaborate together—an integrated platform that unifies team messaging, video, phone, as well as customer service. Employees can move seamlessly between communication channels, access the information they need before meetings, and jump into meetings fully prepared.
Additionally, when more hurdles can be effortlessly clarified through messaging, calling, and video meetings, fewer in-person meetings will be needed. And with an era of increasingly remote work, effortless communication will be more necessary than ever before.
Make sure your organization is ready to embrace contextual meetings. See how RingCentral Video can help.
Want to learn more about why traditional meetings are a thing of the past? Check out 2024: The Death of the Meeting?
Originally published Apr 07, 2020, updated Aug 12, 2020