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5 Steps to Creating a Culture Shift

Posted on December 10, 2021
Video conference illustration
How often do you find yourself clicking over from one Zoom meeting to another with no chance to grab a glass of water let alone take a comfort break? I am assuming, it is all too often. In several meetings over the past few days, my fellow zoomies and I discussed the need for a culture shift. We figuratively run from one meeting to the next, the meetings run too long, we need to be in only a portion of the meeting, or the business at hand could have been handled by a smaller group or via email or a shared document. While we are not physically running from one meeting to the next, it is exhausting.

How can we change this frenetic meeting culture?

Unless senior leadership in companies and organizations across the world want to make the shift, then it is up to us! And here are some ways WE can start to change the culture:

Avoid Monday AM and Friday PM
For those of you who lead teams, stop scheduling meetings on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings. A 9:00 a.m. meeting on Monday morning presupposes the attendees will prepare for the meeting on Sunday evening. Friday afternoon meetings leave no time to wrap up the week before heading home for the much-awaited weekend.

Follow a Therapist’s Schedule
Instead of scheduling one-hour meetings, schedule them for 30 minutes or no more than 50 minutes to allow for a 10-minute break between meetings to take a comfort break, eat a snack, stretch, or send out a couple of emails.

Block off Time

When we are in meetings all day, we are left with no option but to do our “work” in the evening or on the weekends. I block off a couple of hours a few times a week, so I can engage with my students in my online classes, grade their papers, or get other work completed. 

Lunch is Off Limits

I also recommending blocking off your lunch hour. I have one colleague, and if he’s reading this, he will know who he is, who always schedules meetings during the lunch hour. I get that, that is often a time when a group is available, but when you have a meeting from 11:00 to 12:00 and one from 1:00 to 2:00 and a lunch meeting gets added in, there is no time to eat lunch. At an organization where I previously worked, the noon hour was referred to as the common hour, no meetings could be scheduled, no classes, etc., unless it was for the entire college and that meeting was then held in the dining hall, so people could eat.

Review Your Meeting Invites
Work with your team to look at the meetings you all attend, especially those where multiple members of your team attend. Often the overlap is not necessary as long as you have a means for reporting out to the staff. 

If we all start following this approach, the culture in our respective organizations will begin to shift. This certainly will not change everything, but a culture shift like this can have a huge impact on the daily lives of employees. At a minimum, it will give folks a bit more breathing room, which usually helps to reduce stress.

So, will you be part of the culture shift?


Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Dean, Graduate College
Assistant Clinical Professor & Dept. Head, Goodwin College
Drexel University