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No-Meeting Days: What They Are & 10 Best Practices

No meeting days can be a productive team change when done right. Learn how to implement them with these 10 best practices.

By Mara Calvello  •   October 3, 2023  •   7 min read

When was the last time your team members had the entire day to lean into deep work, giving all their attention to essential tasks on their to-do lists? 

Unfortunately, days like that don’t happen often, as your team members likely spend a good chunk of their workdays in meetings. In fact, according to Zippia, 35% of employees spend two to five hours daily dealing with meetings and calls, and per day, most employees (54%) spend over 30 minutes in each meeting they have. 

Consider implementing a no-meeting day to give your team the time they need to get their work done.

What is a no-meeting day? 

A no-meeting day is just as the name suggests: a day in the work week when you don’t have any meetings on your calendar. In other words, when you check your calendar in the morning, there’s no team check-in, one-on-one, standup, or strategy sync.

A no-meeting day is one day a week that is set by and established across your team. Get a consensus from all your team members on which day of the week works best to block out their calendars, focus on deep work, and knock items off their to-do lists. Establishing this one day a week is a great way for teams to plan ahead, boost productivity, and give tasks their complete focus and attention.

Run delightful meetings

Increase meeting engagement and productivity with a collaborative agenda that the whole team can contribute to. Try using a tool like Fellow! 

Benefits of no-meeting days

Having no meeting days on your calendar can lead to several benefits. 

Reduce meeting fatigue

For starters, no-meeting days help to fight and reduce meeting fatigue. Meeting fatigue is a state of mind that occurs when employees have been over-attending virtual meetings. This can leave your team members feeling overwhelmed, feeling tired all the time, experiencing a lack of motivation, or not having the time to take breaks throughout the day.

Having a day without meetings helps eliminate meeting fatigue so your team feels refreshed and focused.

Provide time for deep focus

No-meeting days can also give your team time for deep focus, which is a dedicated time when team members can focus on a specific task or action item without being disrupted. Because distractions are limited and time is spent outside of meetings, teams can make time for deep work.

Reduce stress

Having a no-meeting day on the calendar can also help reduce stress. There’s a chance your team members could start to feel overwhelmed by a constant barrage of meetings on the calendar, causing them to feel like there simply isn’t enough time to work through their to-do lists. Knowing there’s a day each week when their calendar is free of meetings and open for work can help alleviate this stress.

Improve communication outside of meetings

Finally, no-meeting days help improve communication when meetings aren’t occurring. Because this day allows everyone to work through tasks, get their questions and concerns together, and have solo brainstorming sessions, communication is more straightforward and concise when meeting with others.

Downsides of no-meeting days 

Despite these benefits, there are downsides of no-meeting days to consider as well.

Risk of missed opportunities

There’s no denying that a no-meeting day is helpful to focus on specific tasks, but there’s a potential to miss out on important opportunities or information shared in meetings. 

For example, a customer or potential client might only be available to have a meeting when your team has set a no-meeting day, or perhaps something urgent comes up that needs to be addressed in a meeting as soon as possible and it happens to be a no-meeting day.

It’s important to consider which meetings can be rescheduled or skipped when a no-meeting day is taking place.

Risk of poor accountability

It’s also possible that no-meeting days put team members at risk of poor accountability.

Having a regular meeting schedule can provide accountability for employees, which can be lost when meetings are reduced. Managers need to find ways to maintain structure and accountability when no-meeting days are implemented—for example, by setting clear guidelines and deadlines.

Risk of employees feeling disconnected 

The risk of employees feeling disconnected can happen when virtual teams put a no-meeting day in motion. This is an entire day where team members go without having face-to-face (in-person or virtual) communication with others, which can cause them to miss important updates or feel isolated.

This risk can be avoided with regular communication through email or direct messaging outside of meetings.

Risk of miscommunications 

Finally, a no-meeting day also puts team members at risk of miscommunication. Limiting the number of meetings an employee has also puts a limit on opportunities to collaborate and communicate with others. This could make team morale suffer, so other communication channels need to be leveraged too.

How to implement a no-meeting day: 10 tips 

Are you interested in implementing a no-meeting day in your team’s calendar? Here are 10 tips to do it right.

1Automate the process 

To make a no-meeting day work for your team, automate the process with a tool like Fellow, which has the functionality already baked into it. As part of the Meeting Guidelines feature set, Fellow enables company leaders to set a no-meeting day for their organization so that any time someone tries to schedule a meeting on that day, they will be automatically prompted to find another time.

This way, your team doesn’t even have to think about how to handle a no-meeting day because Fellow does it for them.

2Set clear guidelines

Managers also need to establish clear guidelines for no-meeting days. For example, in addition to improving communication outside of meetings, consider the channels and platforms that will be used for asynchronous communication. Whether your team uses email or direct messaging tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams, establish a guideline for how to leverage asynchronous communication correctly and efficiently and ensure that employees have a shared understanding of how to use these tools effectively, too.

3Lead by example

As a team leader or manager, be sure to lead by example, especially when the no-meeting day is still a new concept for your team. If every week you make exceptions and still join and schedule meetings during your no-meeting day, this sends a sign to your team that they can make exceptions too. Additionally, it sends the message that you don’t take policy seriously. This can lead to a lack of employee buy-in and ultimately undermine the effectiveness of having no-meeting days.

Ensure your teammates see you sticking to the parameters of a no-meeting day and using communication tools instead.

4Document the change

Once the no-meeting day has been implemented, document how things are going. Keep records of the impact of no-meeting days, both positive and negative, for future reference and decision making. Having a record of the change makes it possible to evaluate the impact of the no-meeting day policy to see if it achieves its intended goals. You can start by tracking productivity and engagement levels before and after implementing the policy.

5Establish KPIs

Next, be sure to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) around your no-meeting days. Establishing metrics or KPIs to evaluate the impact of no-meeting days on productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall organizational goals is crucial.

Having this kind of data can help you to know if the concept is working for your team, if certain elements should be changed, or if the cadence of these days needs to be adjusted.

6Explain the benefits

Managers should always strive to keep their team looped in and updated on changes, so ensure you’re clearly explaining the benefits of implementing no-meeting days. Let everyone know why you’re doing it, how you believe it can help, what you want to gain, and the benefits you expect.

Teams that are in the know are more likely to get on board when changes occur.

7Be flexible 

Managers should also be flexible when implementing this type of change. It’s essential to emphasize the importance of adapting the strategy as needed. What works initially may need adjustments as circumstances change–like if your team expands or new time-sensitive projects are added to the calendar.

8Conduct a meeting audit

Managers should also conduct a meeting audit, which entails closely examining team schedules and finding any meetings that may be unnecessary or redundant. Keep an eye out for meetings that aren’t relevant, are too similar to other meetings, or could be replaced by email or direct messaging.

Conducting this audit ensures the meetings your team members do have on their calendars have a clear purpose and are productive.

9Provide leadership development 

Organizations should also provide leadership development around no-meeting days. Providing leadership development and training to help managers and executives effectively lead and support teams during no-meeting days can impact whether the initiative is a success and whether employees feel supported.

10Ask for feedback

Finally, ask for feedback from the team on whether they feel they’re benefiting from having a no-meeting day on their calendars. Consider creating a feedback loop with Fellow to continuously receive feedback on the no-meeting days and ensure they always benefit everyone on the team.

Parting advice 

Having a schedule packed with meetings can feel overwhelming, but meeting-free days are a great way to give your team members the energy boost they need to accomplish tasks on their to-do lists. It also provides time for deep work, allowing them to focus on the action items that matter most. 

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