State of Meetings Report 2021

An analysis of meetings and how they changed in 2020.

14 min read

3 takeaways from our State of Meetings Report

So how did meetings actually change in 2020? What will the long-term impact of this change be? And could 2020 have changed the way we meet for good?

These are all the questions we plan to answer in this report.

2020 changed our lives in a lot of ways and how we work was no exception. Around the world, national lockdowns and travel restrictions forced businesses to think of new ways to keep the doors open. 

Our State of Meetings Report looked at over 30 million meetings booked through Doodle between January 1st and December 31st and here are three things you should know. 

Virtual meetings are on the rise and here to stay

Our research showed that although virtual meetings have been on the rise for the last few years, 2020 gave them the breakthrough they needed to become an established element of the business world. 

A research survey conducted by Doodle found that nearly 60 percent of respondents feared it would be more challenging to deal with clients online. Many of these concerns were things like problems with technology, uncontrollable distractions such as background noise and not having the right equipment. 2020 forced people to come face-to-face with these fears. 

Around the world, virtual 1:1 meetings rose by a staggering 1,230 percent. In places like the United States, there was evidence that mental health check-ins and shorter catch-ups contributed to this. 

Virtual group meetings were also up. There was a 613 percent increase in meetings of three or more people from January to December. In the United Kingdom, our data showed that more people were meeting during times they would have normally traveled to and from work. Despite the fears of many businesses – 61 percent of employers reported their staff were just as focused at home as they were in the office. They also believed collaboration had either improved or stayed the same. 

With virtual meetings helping rather than hindering business, many are seeing the potential benefits remote working could bring to their organizations. Companies can downsize office spaces and adopt hot-desking. Not only does that save the business money but can have benefits for staff too. Research by Barco reinforced this with 85 percent of people saying they would like a hybrid model of working between home and office. On top of that, eliminating the lengthy commute for staff and allowing more flexible working can dramatically increase mental wellbeing leading to lower staff absence as a result. 

You can read about the other aspects of working life we expect to change thanks to virtual meetings in the full report.

Expect more online interviews

Remote recruiting was already on the rise. More and more companies – especially start-ups and those in the tech sector – were using it as a more viable option to get the right people. COVID 19 forced the rest of the world to catch up. 

Not only have we seen more companies than ever recruit entirely online, but evidence suggests we’ve jumped forward about five years in one. 

Let’s take Spotify for example. Last year, after it adopted its working style to cope with COVID 19, it decided that employees can work remotely from anywhere in the world. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said he expected something similar at Facebook. He told staff that half the social giant’s staff would work remotely in the next five to ten years.

With more remote working comes more remote recruiting and the data from our report shows this. Virtual recruitment and onboarding were up 64 percent from January to December. 

Virtual recruitment can also help businesses in other ways. Mental wellbeing and burnout prevention are being better understood by companies than they were even a few years ago. By interviewing and onboarding online, organizations can streamline their processes, make them more efficient and ensure their employees remain happy and healthy. 

Despite the rise in home working – we’re still using mobiles to book meetings

This is one of these results that seem surprising and expected all at the same time. The growth in mobile technology has been exponential in recent years, so naturally, it seems logical that people would be using their phones to book meetings. 

On the other hand, with more people than ever working from home (and a lot of us stuck there due to travel restrictions), there’s a bit of a disconnect between people sitting in front of their computers all day and them booking meetings. 

In 2020, over 60 percent of the meetings we booked were done through a mobile phone. Compared to 2019, those of us booking meetings through a desktop almost halved from a little over 38 percent to 21.3 percent. 

We think there are a couple of reasons behind this. 

More devices than ever now sync together. Take your laptop, for instance, when you update your calendar it makes the changes on your phone. It seems logical then that if a meeting pops up when you’re on your phone – you’ll just confirm it. 

Technology, especially mobile and video equipment, has dropped dramatically in price over the last few years. Think back to meetings 10 or 20 years ago. In order to attend a meeting virtually, you needed expensive equipment (that often required things like its own phone line). Now, with the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you can attend meetings virtually (pun intended) anywhere. 

Our State of Meetings 2020 Report 

This is just some of what our report has shown about meetings in 2020. If you want to read the full report you can download it for free.

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