How to implement a no meeting workday at your technology business

At Regroove, our mission is to relentlessly modernize organizations to create happier, more efficient workplaces. We are not afraid to try something new to benefit our staffs’ mental health. If a change to “the way things have always been done” also increases our productivity, it’s a bonus …. introducing the no meeting workday! 

With jam-packed calendars and a growing number of client projects, we are constantly on Microsoft Teams – engaging in calls with clients and colleagues. Sometimes it can be draining to have a day filled with video calls and a lack of breaks. Also, with sporadic meetings spread across a day, it can be difficult to find time to start creative and focused work. 

Companies from Facebook to Shopify have embraced a no meeting day, dedicating one day a week to focused tasks without the disruption of the Microsoft Teams ringtone. Austin-based mobile design agency, Jackrabbit Mobile have gone so far as implementing two no meeting days a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays, really giving their team to get their heads down! 

Businesses behind a no meeting workday include Shopify, Facebook and Jackrabbit. Regroove is alongside the pros.

So, setting the intention to create space and time for creative and focused work, we decided to trial ‘No Meetings Wednesday’s’.  

Regroove staff created a recurring event in their Outlook Calendar to block the entire day every Wednesday. They were asked to also decline any meeting requests, with a polite note explaining why. Most staff tend to spend their no meeting workday focusing on a range of time-consuming tasks that can’t be worked on successfully when their concentration is interrupted by meetings.  

Will a no meeting workday work for your business? 

First, you will have to work out if a meeting-free workday will work for your company. With a mixed range of personalities in a workplace, some may thrive on a meeting-free workday, whereas others may not. Introverts will most likely find a ‘No Meeting Wednesday’ is a dream come true. However, for the extroverts on your team, a meeting-free day may have the opposite effect. Regroove addresses this by scheduling an optional 15-minute morning chat where staff can join to chit chat about anything on their minds not related to work: movie reviews, current events, and weekend plans are popular topics.  

No meeting workdays may not work for everyone; however, Regroove has found that they do for our workplace! With a Microsoft Teams environment, Regroove are always connected. Starting with a daily scrum maintains communication between team members during the first half of the day while people get on with client tasks. You can take a look at how Regroove utilizes a scrum in the video here.  

How to set up a no-meeting workday at your workplace: 

Setting up a no- meeting workday in your business is easier than you think. With the tools in Microsoft 365, you can set up your calendars to reject meetings on a meeting-free day, alert other people that you are unavailable for a meeting or simply to keep a reminder for yourself to not  book meetings that day.  

One thing is for sure, you must strictly enforce a no meeting workday across your workplace. The only way a no-meeting workday will continue to be a positive culture shift is if all staff members commit to keeping it free of meetings. Clients understand. It may plant a seed that leads to positive change within their workplace.  

How to block your Outlook calendar

Technology is a great tool to help people create new habits.  We block out the entire day in our Microsoft Outlook calendars using an event titled ‘No meetings’. Here are the steps to set this up: 

  1. In your calendar, click ‘New event’ (or ‘New appointment’, if you’re using Outlook desktop). 
  1. Enter your chosen name such as ‘No meetings day’ in the Title field.
  1. In the start and end time, select your work hours. For example, 8:30am – 5:30pm. Alternatively, select the ‘All day’ =checkbox. 
  1. Set this as a recurring weekly event using the ‘Make Recurring’ or ‘Repeat’ button. 
  1. Confirm that the event is set to Busy using the Show as button. This helps automated scheduling tools like Scheduling Assistant and FindTime know you are not available.  
  1. If you haven’t yet, share your calendar with your coworkers so they can see your availability. 

If you are looking for more detail, check out our blog dedicated to blocking Outlook calendars here.

How to communicate your No Meeting Days with Clients  

When onboarding clients or in weekly meetings, be sure to communicate your no-meeting day with them. Regroove alerts all clients of ‘no meetings Wednesday’ and books all recurring meetings on alternative days of the week.  

Clients may feel that a no-meeting day makes you feel out of reach to them. However, it is key to make clear to clients that this ‘no meeting day’ is a day to focus on their tasks, and communication can still be made via Microsoft Teams channels if necessary.  

How to add To Do and Planner Tasks to Microsoft Outlook.

How to see your planner schedule in your Outlook Calendar  

Planning your time becomes a dream when you can see your planner schedule in your Outlook calendar. Follow the below instructions to add your planner board to your Outlook calendar: 

  1. At the top of your Planner board, select the three dots  
  1. Select ‘Add plan to Outlook calendar’ 
  1. If you don’t see this option, the plan owner must publish the plan as an Outlook calendar. Select the three dots …, select ‘Add plan to Outlook calendar’, then select ‘Publish’ and ‘Add to Outlook’. 
  1. On the Subscribe from web tab, change the Calendar name if you like, and select Import 

This then allows you to view your plan and tasks in Outlook. To do this: 

  1. Under Other calendars, select your plan. 
  1. Select a Planner task to see a quick view. 
  1. To see more details, select the View event arrow in the upper right. 
  1. Here you can see dates, progress, and a checklist summary. 
  1. You can also select Open this task in Microsoft Planner
  1. In Planner, you’re able to edit this task as usual. 

If this doesn’t make sense, be sure to check out the Microsoft video here

How to make Microsoft Planner tasks appear in Microsoft Outlook.

How to import Microsoft To Do Tasks into Microsoft Outlook 

When in Outlook, you may notice the checkbox icon in the top right corner. This expands to reveal ‘My Day’, an area where all of your To Do tasks pop out in your Outlook calendar.  

You can use this list to plan the tasks of your no meeting day. Simply drag the tasks across into your calendar and you can have a day plan of all the tasks that you want to complete! ‘My Day’ also brings across the deadlines of your tasks, with red showing tasks that have already met their deadline. 

How to have a productive meeting free day 

Everyone has their own way of working, but there are a number of tips for having a productive meeting free workday:

  • Take 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to plan and prioritize your tasks or you risk jumping back and forth between Teams alerts and emails all day and not getting solid work done.  
  • Front-load difficult and time-consuming tasks. Do those first thing in the morning or you risk not having the energy later in the day.  
  • Don’t get stuck sitting at your computer for all eight hours. Put breaks in your calendar where you get up, stretch, and walk around.  
  • Focus on billable tasks first rather than getting weighed down with non-essential tasks just because you don’t have meetings.  
  • Add task time blocks in your calendar so you can get important tasks completed.  
  • Stick to not having any meetings even if it’s challenging. The more you do, the more it becomes a habit and the more people respect the boundary. 

With a no-meeting Wednesday reaping a range of positive feedback from Regroove staff, there is no question of the success it has brought. The success of no-meeting Wednesday’s has been amplified by leading a hybrid work environment, you can read more about preparing for hybrid working here. With more time for tasks and more structured Wednesdays, no-meeting Wednesdays have been dubbed ‘Little Saturday’s’ due to the great feeling they bring to the team!  

Time Management Tips: An Exploration

One of our team members tried out a few suggested methods of time management and gave them arbitrary ratings based on how well they worked for him.

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