Freeman Cebu Business

Evolution of meetings and the internet

FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos - The Freeman

The first chapter of the drama in the House of Representatives just ended. Definitely, future chapters shall include, among others, appointments of new deputy speakers and replacements of existing chairmanships in important committees.

These changes (current and future) were preceded by a meeting of Cong. Velasco’s camp in a different venue wherein he was elected as the new Speaker of the House. Notably, not only that some voted remotely, discourses were also done the same way and in real-time. Raucous (though ratified in the august hall of congress) it maybe, the use of technology was so evident in resolving their greed-driven concern.  

Since their greed-driven concerns are so obvious,talking about it at this point in time is pure baloney. What is really valuable is the technology that they’ve used in such a meeting or assembly and where it (the technology) is headed to.

Traditionally, meetings are done in person or face-to-face. Such kind of meeting is referred to, generally, as all-hands meeting. In some occasions, they call it town hall meeting. In this set-up, everyone is physically present to personally ask questions or just plainly listen to the answers straight from the horse’s mouth. Done badly, however, it will be just a total waste of time and money. Just like what we normally see in some of the sessions and hearings in the House of Representatives.

In business, meetings are even more important. So that everyone in a company or in a team makes sure that, in a meeting, the time collectively invested will not be wasted. So that, it does not only put everyone on the same page, it also drives transparency and alignment of strategies and activities around their company’s vision and mission. 

Moreover, it is also used to congratulate people for their achievements and gives participants a chance to ask questions or participate in the discussion.

As multinational companies spread workloads globally, face-to-face meetings are no longer possible. Therefore, trying to put everyone in the company on the same page became a huge challenge. However, strongly driven by all-hands meeting’s indispensability, it was made again possible, albeit, remotely, via Zoom (an all-hands virtual meeting app).

We wish to emphasize though that contrary to what others thought, Zoom or virtual meetings were already available long before the pandemic wreak havoc globally. Its importance and appropriateness, however, were magnified because of the pandemic.  

However, as multinational companies continue to spread their operations in different time zones, employees’ health and wellbeing were brought to the fore. This is due to the fact that while employees in the eastern hemisphere are awake and working, the other side may have been sleeping tightly. So that, all-hands virtual meetings via Zoom, for instance, will be so cumbersome and unhealthy to some extent.  

Moreover, work-from-home scheme is now becoming popular. In fact, more countries have passed laws and encouraged employers and employees alike to embrace it. Notably, most of those who went for it are working mothers. Due to working mothers’ preference for it, the complication began. Remember, being at home, juggling between work and home chores will always be the order of the day. Therefore, attending even virtual meetings could be taxing.

Recognizing these inconveniences, at least, two companies came up with another way of doing virtual meetings. They call it “asynchronous meeting”. An “asynchronous meeting” is still an assembly of people for the purpose of discussion. However, as the term suggests, it is a meeting that not all participants are participating at the exact same time.

Unlike synchronously in the same (real or virtual) room, in this set-up, the same people (the participants) “receive the same message but they just interpret and react to it on their own time.” It allows presenters “to communicate messages through the same means of a live, in-person meeting without the need to coordinate across time zones and overflowing schedules.” 

Both innovators, “Loom” and “Comeet”, emphasized that it gives teams “the freedom and flexibility to address the audience in a more engaging manner than a dry block of text.” Simply put, itis just right “in between Slack messages and in-person meetings.”

Indeed, these innovations (“Loom and “Comeet”) are both timely and appropriate. In us, however, innovations like these will always be challenging to use. Why? Because our internet connections are the poorest of the poor.

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