The humble meeting, I miss it so

Meetings are probably the most maligned form of group activity after Morris Dancing. Everyone loves to slag off meetings, don’t they?

And now we can’t have any of them. Indefinitely. They’ve gone from all of our days, poof! And I find that I curiously miss them.

I miss people; proper organic carbon units in my immediate vicinity. I miss the contact. I miss the room. I miss sitting in the same space as other humans. I miss the crap coffee and the blizzard of post-its. I miss everyone turning up ten minutes late as if it’s acceptable behaviour. I miss all those people sitting about taking notes, for what purpose no one quite knows.

I’m here today to stand up for the most under-rated and most under-appreciated part of daily work life – the humble meeting. I know I’m probably in a minority of one, but I really miss meetings. I know, I know. But I do. I mostly just miss the glorious, mundane, familiar normality of it all.

In terms of creativity and ideas I really miss just spending time together shooting the shit - and the ability to spark off each other. This is my serious point. Creative teams like to spend time together face-to-face sparking ideas and watching them fly or die. As a planner, I really miss working with my creative partner, Mick, in close physical space (he probably doesn’t).

I imagine that, like me, you’ve just spent 80% of last week on Zoom calls. They were OK. We got by. Things got done, we stayed in touch and work happened. We got by but everyone knows if they’re honest, IT’S JUST NOT THE SAME.

Humans are connecting creatures. Isolation is not good for us. A study at Brigham Young University, Utah in 2010 showed that loneliness was as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of your health. I think as good as technology gets it’ll never really replace spending time together in the same physical space. We will get by. But we shouldn’t forget what was great about being face-to-face in the same space.

I’ll make a massive confession: I’d bloody love to have a meeting right now.

Any meeting would do. Even one of those annoying ones where everyone would sit about pretending to take notes whilst wondering if it was 6pm yet. I’d even settle for a twenty-minute update with Colin from finance. Maybe even one of those ones where no one bothered to ask what the purpose of the meeting was until it was about forty minutes in.

(*Tantrum voice*) I WANT A MEETING. I like my home office and it’s OK to catch up via Zoom and the like, but I miss all those people together breathing same air and wondering if it was OK to take the last chocolate biscuit from the dish.

OK, I’m slightly kidding. We should take this as an opportunity to edit out the silly pointless meetings but let’s remember what is great about being face-to-face and all the brilliant creativity that it leads or has led to in the past.

I keep reading LinkedIn posts about how this current crisis and the need to WFH is going to lead to the scales falling from everyone’s eyes about the amazingness of video-calling and work-by-Zoom. I keep reading think pieces saying that once this crisis is over people won’t ever want to return to offices ever again. But I disagree. I think it’ll be the opposite.

The first thing I want to do when this is all over is schedule a giant pointless four-hour brainstorm in a MASSIVE ballroom, where we can all sit about and lob in daft ideas that’ll never see the light of day. I’ll bring the post-its and branded pencils. I think we’ll all have a ball.

It’ll be like VE Day, but instead of kissing nurses in the street we can all just glory in the fact that we can occupy the same space again, and thinking of the hopeless, lovely, enveloping normality of it almost makes me want to cry a bit.

So, I’m here to stand up for the humble meeting. To praise it and laud it.

Come on? Admit it. Anyone else miss them?

OK, just me and Colin from finance then. See you all on Zoom.