So, you can go back to working in your office as COVID restrictions are eased. Fantastic. A chance to catch up face-to-face with colleagues you have missed, experience the positivity from real-life interactions and get back to some sense of normality in your job. But wait, does this mean the return of face-to-face workplace meetings? Here are 8 types of workplace meeting that you will be absolutely dreading:
The breakfast meeting
when this is proposed, it invokes images for you of a company-paid leisurely full-English, free newspapers to read in comfy leather Chesterfield chairs, and bottomless pots of artisan coffee in some swanky city centre boutique hotel. Maybe there will be 15 minutes put aside to give your thoughtful views on something vaguely related to work. In reality, your boss will want you all in by 730am in the tiny, overheated workplace meeting room, to grill you all for 90 minutes about the piss poor sales figures for the last quarter. He's laid on a couple of stale pastries and a carton of Aldi economy orange juice but the putrid stench of hangovers, BO and seething resentment amongst your colleagues mean no-one has any appetite.
Has your boss got experience in offshore oil excavation? Or were they a member of the cast of the film Armageddon, and therefore skilled in using specialist equipment to penetrate a seemingly unbreakable conundrum? No? Then please tell them to stop using 'Drill Down' to describe the need to look at a few Excel spreadsheets in a bit more depth.
Named after the practice seen in American Football in which a highly primed group at the top of their game make split-second decisions and ruthlessly execute whatever play the quarterback has decided on. Cut to Rich from your accounts team wading through slide 27 out of 39 of their presentation to your team on recent tax law changes, and you start to question the comparison. After an hour, someone needs to tell him he's in overtime. You fear that his request to take all questions at the end will produce no takers as everyone will have literally expired of boredom.
Sold to you on the basis that it is informal, and a chance to catch up with everyone over lunch, the key feature of this meeting is that YOU HAVE TO BRING YOUR OWN BLOODY FOOD AND DRINK. Your cheapskate organisation won't even be providing water, but yes, they will still be recording attendance, taking minutes and using it to inform pay increases for the next year. You will be inevitably sat next to the person with the smelliest egg sandwich, and whose crunching of a bag of prawn cocktail crisps registers on the Richter scale.
This type of meeting is designed to give the impression that meetings can be fun too. We all just need to get back that sense of play we had when we were 4 years old at nursery as it can really generate some creative organisational synergies. Keep the nursery analogy going by bringing in a spade and some actual sand to lob into the face of Sheila from HR when she questions you on your recent expenses claim. Finish up by crying, putting your hand up and saying that you're sorry but you've done a little poo, it just slipped out before someone escorts you off to the 'quiet corner'.
Town Hall meeting
A chance for everyone to have a say in the direction we are going, says your boss, before delivering an hour lecture and telling you all you're still lucky to have a job. 'Any questions, after all we are a democracy here?' says your boss. 'Oh, sorry, the room's booked now for someone else, and...yes, I can see them wanting to come in now. We'll have to finish here, I'm afraid. See you all same time, same place in six months?'.
Idea Slam or Battle
Is your boss a legendary rapper or break dance artist, happy to go toe-to-toe with an adversary whilst onlookers gasp at the creativity and new heights that a contest can bring? No? Of course they aren't. This type of meeting promises to harness the potential of different viewpoints, but it will inevitably involve factions of colleagues unsubtly having a pop at each others failings, with an undercurrent of actual physical violence always on the cards.
Let's use the comfortable, yet competitively priced meeting room of the Stafford West Premier Inn take stock of where we are, where we want to be, and most importantly, who we want to be, says the email. In reality, after contributing a couple of points in the first session, you're trying to catch up on your emails, send a few snarky texts about your boss's sweat patches on the private whatsapp group. The main agenda item for you now is to clean up on the free pens and paper and get at least 3 visits to the hot buffet at lunch.