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June 14, 2022

You should be having longer meetings. (We’ll explain.)

Here’s how life science teams can improve virtual work with asynchronous communication.
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Work looks completely different than it did just a few short years ago. For one thing, more work is happening remotely, either full-time or on a hybrid schedule. And even as many companies struggle with how to rebuild an in-office culture, much of the workforce has moved on, with some workers adamant that they won’t slip back into old ways. These new patterns and habits are impacting other aspects of work, too – including business travel and large-scale in-person events like trade shows and conferences. How are some of these changes showing up in the day-to-day activities of life science teams? One answer: asynchronous engagement technology.

Late last year, McKinsey research revealed that more than 80% of pharmaceutical executives surveyed think it is likely or very likely that companies will fully embrace more agile ways of working, mostly in response to the need to accomplish more work in less time. And in updating pandemic-related research first conducted in 2020, Accenture found that even as vaccines became available and travel resumed, 87% of HCPs said they wanted either all-virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person meetings, even after the pandemic ends.

There’s a clear-cut case for shifting more interactions to virtual venues or adding virtual elements to in-person activities. While adding these options is definitely about convenience, it’s also about making more effective use of time, inviting broader perspectives into important discussions, and developing a more well-rounded view of disease communities in the pursuit of a stronger scientific narrative. The fact is that virtual work interactions are here to stay – the only question remaining is how to make the most of virtual without defaulting to mostly unproductive and uninspiring hours spent staring at a screen.

Instead of back-to-back meetings, people got back-to-back Zoom calls. Instead of physical interruptions, they got more interruptions via Slack or Teams. – Harvard Business Review

The answer, surprising as it sounds: you need to have longer meetings. (But not in the way you’re thinking.)

In “The Case for Longer, More Thoughtful Meetings,” Fast Company says that longer meetings can result in more aligned and fulfilled employees, based on the reasoning that longer meetings democratize idea-sharing, eliminate unnecessary follow-up, and provide participants with the ability to share ideas in a way that’s comfortable for them. We totally agree, and we think you can have these longer, more thoughtful interactions without spending more time on back-to-back calls. Discussions that take place over a period of days or weeks, also known as asynchronous discussions, are the key to unlocking more thoughtful interaction without requiring all the participants to be available at a single time of day – and to provide all those benefits described above without actually having long meetings.

Among the most common feedback from users of asynchronous platforms – contracted KOLs, patients, allied health professionals, and others – is that they enjoy the ability to focus and answer questions more thoughtfully. This also benefits life science companies, who report getting deeper, more actionable insights from over-time environments than traditional face-to-face meetings. When there might be a risk of hierarchy influence or general reluctance to speak up, asynchronous virtual settings can level the playing field by allowing moderators to ask private questions, conceal participant names, or put different audiences in separate virtual rooms.

We’re not asking you to stop having web meetings – in fact, we help our clients have productive virtual meetings all the time. But we also help them amp up the value of those on-camera hours by using over-time sessions to do things like set agendas, share pre-read material, confirm key takeaways, and gather really insightful feedback that helps them get more done. By combining the capabilities of our async platform with the real-time power of web meetings, life science teams can use their time effectively and spend less time hopping from Zoom to Zoom.

So by all means – have longer meetings (days, weeks…even indefinitely). Just make sure you’re designing them thoughtfully, building in time for increased focus and engagement, and providing a comfortable space for everyone to contribute.

Get some inside perspective on how the most effective life science teams use asynchronous engagement and insights management technology to complete important projects. Or learn how it all works in the real world in this peer-reviewed journal article.

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