Tackle These Top 10 Meeting Challenges


Virtual meetings are here to stay, and for good reason. They’re convenient and cost-effective, and they make it easy to collaborate across offices, locations, and even organizations. But they also come with unique challenges.

A Gartner survey of more than 7,000 digital workers identifies 10 major challenges that make virtual meetings less effective than organizations want. The report offers advice on how to overcome these challenges by improving meeting practices, technology use, and organizational culture.

1. Too Many Meetings
The absence of physical limitations in remote work creates the expectation that employees can meet anytime, anywhere. This often leads to calendars full of meetings — and unhappy staff. To avoid overloading:

  • employees working remotely must have blocks of time that are meeting-free, with leaders promoting this idea and practicing it themselves
  • remote workers should allocate sensible blocks of time in their calendar for meetings, clearly labeled with #meetings or #focus or similar
  • organizations must have a policy stating that they value ‘focus time’ as much as collaboration and meeting times. 

2. Low Participation and Interest from Attendees
It’s typically more difficult for remote workers to engage in a meeting than those joining in person. Employees participating virtually often have to deal with distractions from work and home environment at the same time. To ensure engagement:

  • remote employees must have a clear way to contribute to a meeting. The host should ask for those contributions, not just through audio and video but also via in-meeting chats, to engage extroverts and introverts alike
  • remote workers should develop basic competencies to engage fully during meetings. This includes understanding common activities such as how to enable video, raise a virtual hand to ask a question, and present materials
  • organizations must reinforce positive behaviors. Attendees shouldn’t touch the keyboard unless taking notes, and chatty participants should take turns and leave opportunities for others to speak. Comments via chat must be on point.

3. Unclear Decisions, Commitments, or Next Actions
Employees who work remotely don’t get many opportunities for daily office interactions that help them clarify points or address issues. So work must be identified, complex issues resolved, and decisions made during a meeting. To make a virtual meeting more valuable:

  • employees working remotely must understand their new commitments and balance them with existing priorities. They should spend the last five to 10 minutes of every meeting reviewing decisions and next actions
  • they must keep at least a simple system to track commitments and prevent their to-do items from getting lost. Teams should have a shared digital system where issues are visible, so employees can hold themselves and each other accountable
  • organizations need to provide a structure that spells out meeting outcomes. This can be in the form of a simple list of questions asked at the end of every meeting.

4. Failure to Prepare and Share Agenda, Purpose, and Goals
Failure to show respect for attendees’ time can erode remote workers’ trust in meeting leaders. One way to retain that trust is to show clear preparation for a meeting by sharing a meeting agenda and purpose in advance. It also helps to:

  • clearly set out to remote workers the purpose of a meeting so they’ll know what to contribute. If the meeting organizer has no firm agenda, it’s wise to simply cancel the meeting to avoid wasting time
  • get remote employees to share meeting agendas as part of their calendar invitations
  • hold leaders accountable for how they use remote workers’ time during meetings.

5. Difficulty Involving Relevant Decision Makers and Participants
For fear of missing out, some remote workers attend meetings that aren’t so relevant to them. Organizers should only invite people whose attendance is necessary because they have important information to share or are involved in decision-making. To make the best use of everyone’s time:

  • remote workers should review their meeting commitments and decline optional ones
  • they should avoid inviting optional attendees to meetings or attending meetings that are not mandatory for them
  • organizations should aim for smaller meetings when they need to make decisions. This means being more selective with the people they invite.

6. Poor Audio, Video, or Physical Workspace
Effective virtual meetings require focus, but environmental and technical hitches can make meetings taxing and unsatisfactory. To avoid impediments:

  • remote workers must have a comfortable environment, including a private and quiet meeting space, to help them fully focus
  • they should have noise-canceling headsets and webcams to improve the quality of meeting experiences. The use of internet bandwidth by other devices sharing the same network must be limited during meetings
  • companies must help employees working remotely to solve meeting quality problems. This might require developing help desk support dedicated to these employees or creating special training materials.

7. Lack of Consistent, Standardized Solutions for Meetings
Real-time interaction during meetings requires a lot of effort, including sharing content. Remote workers need more support for the activities they must undertake while collaborating in real time. This includes:

  • reducing context switching into and out of different tools
  • agreeing with regular collaborators about best practices and ways to consolidate meeting materials
  • having the fewest number of touchpoints necessary for a meeting workflow
  • communicating standards for setting up meetings as part of onboarding new remote workers.

8. Difficulty Starting, Joining, Presenting in Meeting Spaces, and Other Ease of Use Issues
Workers generally believe that a meeting technology is easy to use if it starts instantly without necessary client downloads, allows clicking or tapping instead of typing codes, and has simple and intuitive controls for sharing materials. To speed up joining and sharing:

  • employees must be confident in the meeting technology they’re using
  • the technology should allow click-to-join or tap-to-join meetings. Meetings should have passcodes, and users of company-issued meeting solutions should use invitation links and VoIP or PC audio and video
  • it’s important for organizations to make starting and joining meetings as simple as possible without compromising security.

9. Difficulty Finding and Sharing Relevant Materials
Organizing, creating, and sharing content for meetings must be simple and repeatable. There are many places where workers can create and collaborate on content, such as their devices, browsers in web applications, file servers, and cloud storage. To make it easier to share materials and work on them:

  • remote employees should have an agreement with regular collaborators for how and where they will organize team content
  • the IT department should give them best practices for meetings with a virtual workspace where participants can chat, start a meeting, store content, and collaborate
  • organizations must make sure their meeting solution and content collaboration strategies are aligned.

10. Meeting Tools Not Making It Easy to Find Mutually Acceptable Time and Resources
It’s not always easy to find time and space that works for everyone. To facilitate scheduling:

  • remote employees must be available to meet with colleagues, team members, and managers without overcommitting to meetings
  • they should review meeting defaults and disregard suggestions by calendar programs that set hour-long meetings, choosing their own slots instead
  • employers must allow workers to solve meeting scheduling problems creatively, such as by setting core hours with frequent collaborators within a few time zones.

As Gartner rightly points out, it’s important for organizations to eliminate meetings that unnecessarily take up employees’ time. Instead, leaders should focus on better engaging attendees, providing a meeting structure, and setting clear outcomes.

Using the right technology is also key. At BlueJeans by Verizon, we’re always innovating to make virtual meetings — and remote work — more productive and effective. Download the Gartner report here or find out more about how BlueJeans can help.