Most meetings in the modern workplace are pointless. We're meeting averse here at Zapier because we want avoid the distracting and unnecessary side meetings that happen every day in co-located teams.
That said, if done right, meetings can be an efficient way to work through potential problems and solutions. This is the case for a recurring "standup meeting" in a remote team, which gives teammates visibility into each other's activities and helps remove any roadblocks in the way of a colleague's responsibilities. It's also a nice reminder that you work with people who have personalities bigger than their group chat personas would ever show.
Over the course of Zapier's history we have revamped how we do our team standup meeting. After many—six at last count—unsuccessful iterations, we've finally found a meeting structure that drives meaningful discussion and visible results for the business.
Here's how we make the most of the weekly standup meeting:
Time and Meeting Frequency
Each week at the teams discretion (we have 3 teams at Zapier - support, marketing, and product/engineering) there is a weekly meeting. There's also a weekly lightning talk / demo meeting which isn't useful for working through the current roadmap.
In the past, we tried the agile version of the 15-minute daily standup, but we found this was too frequent. Most days, team members didn't have enough new information to convey, making a majority of the meetings not useful. The daily format also required everyone to slot some part of their day, every day to chat. That was a lot of wasteful meeting overhead.
So we settled on a weekly meeting. One week between check-ins tends to supply the right amount of activity where a team meeting becomes useful.
The best time is determined by each team. Support likes to do 8am PST on Monday's because it kick starts the week nicely. Marketing does Tuesday at 3:30pm PST because it plays nicely with Thailand. Engineering likes to do 8am PST on Friday because it caps the week of work nicely.
Past iterations of our weekly team meeting involved each team member verbally sharing the items they completed that week. However, that was an inefficient way to do a meeting.
Meetings are an awful place for information sharing. When we did so, we spent the entire meeting talking at each other about tasks we completed rather than discussing tasks that could drive significant results for the company.
Before the weekly meeting, each teammate writes a short bit about what they are working on that week and what's on their mid term roadmap in a shared Google Doc.
- Things I said I'd do this week and their results
- Other issues that came up
- Things I'm doing next week
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