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How setting aside free hours every day from meetings can improve your teams' productivity and mental health

Black young businesswoman listening to discussion of lawyers during meeting at office
Some companies are implementing rules in their working day to prevent workers from burning out.
  • Remote working means longer working hours, more meetings on Zoom, and constant emails.
  • Companies like Dropbox or Slack have started to set a few hours free of meetings every day.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Remote working appears to be here to stay. However, as we all start to get "back to normal," some companies are combining remote and office work.

The challenge now, of course, is to coordinate this new normal and to ensure that companies remain productive while their employees have a good work-life balance.

In addition, remote working has meant more meetings with more people, more emails, and longer working hours.

Therefore, some companies have decided to implement rules in their working day to prevent workers from burning out.

One of these measures is the so-called "core hours," when workers must be available for Zoom meetings, joint projects with other departments, or any other activity that involves teamwork.

These hours would be set between 10 am and 2 pm, or 1 pm and 4 pm, although it depends on the company. However, they wouldn't exceed three or four hours a day.

The rest of the time would be hours free from any meetings, so employees can organize their working day and make better use of their time without being tied up in last-minute meetings.

This is nothing new, however.

A lot of companies have been doing this for decades - it's a savvy way of avoiding afternoon meetings dragging on past the end of the working day, which can have a negative impact on teams' personal lives.

But the pandemic has led many to jump on the trend.

Google, Dropbox, and Slack have set up meeting-free hours

Google established a week without meetings while companies like Dropbox and Slack have also set up a "meeting-free hours" strategy during the working day.

Laura Ryan, international human resources director at Dropbox, told Insider how a simple review of her calendar meant she was able to cut up to 15 hours of meetings per week.

Dropbox has implemented a strategy of "core collaboration hours," in which it set aside certain hours just for meetings so employees could then freely and flexibly structure their working day as they wished.

This is something that companies such as Slack have also done.

"If you give people from 9 am to 5 pm to organize meetings, they will up with non-stop meetings all day. So they won't be able to get anything else done," vice-president of the Slack Future Forum Brian Elliot told The Wall Street Journal.

The Slack Future Forum is a consortium launched by the company to help other companies reflect on the future of work.

In Spain, a pilot program has been launched to trial the 4-day working week in order to improve work-life balance and productivity.

However, how the working day itself is organized - that is, the hours worked in the same day - varies depending on the sector and the company.

One example of a Spanish startup at the forefront of remote working and flexibility is Irisbond, a company that manufactures eye-tracking devices and technology.

Irisbond's offices are designed as collaborative spaces for working in the cloud and using applications to communicate between team members such as Discord, Slack, and Google Meet.

In addition, their teams are self-organized and share results or the status of their projects only every two weeks, which slows down the flow of information.

When Insider asked Irisbond's CEO and founder Eduardo Jáuregui about flexibility, he said: "The team can come to the office in the morning, go home for lunch, and finish the day from there. This makes it easier for everyone to have lunch with their family or at home."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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