When meetings are too long or too frequent, collaboration in the workplace can go haywire, especially if not all employees share a physical space. Empower your remote and hybrid teams to collaborate more effectively by using the insights gathered from our recent survey on the state of productivity and collaboration in Canada.

A look at collaboration in the workplace in Canada and around the globe

Company meetings are a daily occurrence for professionals everywhere, regardless of their workplace. With the continuing trend of remote and hybrid work models, many companies turn to online meeting software to help employees collaborate. But, how exactly are businesses ensuring their teams can work together effectively, and what do their meetings look like?

Inefficient collaboration can create disengaged employees, build resentment amongst teams, and muddle the focus on business goals and desired project outcomes. To help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) protect themselves from these meeting pitfalls, we surveyed nearly 500 employees in Canada and around the world, working in hybrid or remote work models. 

For the full methodology and the list of the 13 countries surveyed, scroll to the bottom of this article.

One in five employees have too many meetings

In Canada, 20% of surveyed employees say their calendar has ‘too many meetings’. The same number also said their meetings tend to run too long, signaling an overwhelm caused by meetings for some Canadian employees. Though the majority of respondents have appropriate meeting frequency and length, getting it wrong can threaten employee performance.

meeting fatigue Canada

An overstuffed meeting agenda puts employees at risk of losing focus. Only 8% of Canadian employees said they never switch focus during meetings, but they’re in the minority. In fact, the top reasons to lose focus on a meeting are because it’s too long of a meeting (cited by 46% of respondents), the information is irrelevant to their work (42%), and because one person is talking too much (38%). 

Employee productivity is also at risk. Attending meetings that could have been an email or meetings that aren’t relevant to you leads to wasted time that could be better spent elsewhere. To keep employees engaged and productive during collaborations, here are a few important tips on how to schedule meetings:

  • Make sure that meetings start and end on time. Stretching meetings to include more details might seem like a good idea, but if employees are losing focus, they aren’t likely to retain the information.
  • Consider establishing ‘meeting-free days’ at work, which gives employees uninterrupted time to do deep, productive work. 
  • When scheduling a meeting, set the purpose of the meeting, the goal to achieve by the end of it, and a list of absolutely necessary (not optional) stakeholders. These parameters will help keep meetings efficient and relevant to all parties.
Sticking to efficient meeting habits
After establishing a meeting policy that empowers productivity and encourages focused work, it’s important to keep an eye on it. Virtual meetings only take a few clicks to set up, and bad habits can creep back in. Tools like employee engagement platforms can give your company a bird’s-eye view of your employees’ experience. Some tools can even collect feedback when you want to check the pulse on your meeting strategy.

Video meetings follow email as most common way to collaborate

When the rise of remote work was spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, not many knew what impact it would have on professional collaboration. Meeting platforms like Google Meet and Microsoft Teams saw significant increases in daily users in 2020, but it wasn’t clear if this type of meeting was part of the ‘new normal.’ 

Our survey revealed that email holds the top spot, but video meetings are the second most common way to collaborate with colleagues for both hybrid and remote respondents. Many preferred methods of collaboration enable ideas to be bounced back and forth in real-time, such as video meetings and emails. Document management software is also a popular platform to work together, likely because such tools keep all updates, comments, and ideas in one place.

Top methods of professional collaboration in the workplace including collaborative virtual environments

Productivity —or getting work done— is the top-cited goal of company meetings as per surveyed employees. It makes sense then that the most preferred collaborative technologies provide quick and easy access to contributors, allowing them to get work done faster.

Building a collaboration tech stack for employees
As evidenced in the graph above, employees use a variety of tools to collaborate, not just one. It’s important that these tools work together well and that the information shared within them is protected. To learn more about how to adopt business tools that are right for your organization, read our insights for investing in business technology in 2024.

Canada leads in workplaces with mostly virtual meeting policies

Amongst the 13 countries that participated in this survey, Canada emerged as the leader in workplaces offering mostly virtual meeting policies. 45% of Canadian remote and hybrid survey-takers said their meetings are mostly virtual, followed by 40% who said they had about half virtual and half in-person meetings.

Virtual vs. in person meetings around the world

Virtual meetings are a widely-accepted staple of the business world today, but what is it about them that has made them so favourable? Respondents who stated that they have a mix of virtual and in-person meetings say the most valuable features of an online meeting are as follows:

  1. Screen sharing (cited by 64%)
  2. Content sharing (51%)
  3. In-meeting chat (49%)
  4. Visual collaboration (34%)

These features add an extra layer of collaboration for virtual meeting attendees. Being able to share various types of content while interacting with other collaborators proves that online meetings can offer many of the touchpoints that in-person meetings do.

Moreover, some types of meetings suit a virtual setting better than others. Employees consider meetings addressing company announcements, project kickoffs, and brainstorming sessions to be most preferably conducted online. Perhaps software tools that support such objectives play a role. Intranet software might help businesses broadcast information on company updates, project management tools could be used in tandem with project work, and virtual meeting software features make it easy to collaborate within one shared workspace.

Creating the right meeting policy for hybrid teams
A key tenet of hybrid work environments is their flexibility. Many employees working in such models can choose when to come into the office and when to work from home, meaning that employees’ needs will differ at any given moment. Part of managing a hybrid team is setting your staff up for effective communication regardless of where their fellow coworkers are, so make sure the employee communication tools you choose are the ones that work best for your needs.

70% of Canadians have colleagues with different native languages than their own

Close to three-quarters of remote and hybrid employees in Canada work with at least a few colleagues whose mother tongues are different from their own. 16% of this group say that they have many such teammates, showing that remote and hybrid workplaces are often diverse. 

When employees with different language capabilities need to collaborate, special attention may need to be paid to ensure full comprehension. Addressing the needs of multilingual teams is especially important in Canada, which has two official languages and plenty of unofficial ones as well.

The same group of respondents cited the following top methods for overcoming possible language barriers during meetings:

  1. Providing ample space for feedback and questions (cited by 44%)
  2. Sending follow-up materials post-meeting (38%)
  3. Having native speakers speak slowly and avoid using slang (36%)

The good news is that a majority of Canadians feel comfortable contributing to meetings. Perhaps this comfortability could help alleviate language barriers while maintaining a safe space for all to contribute within. 

However, additional training may still be required for those who haven’t worked in multilingual companies before. Some learning management platforms include training modules for this specific purpose. This type of training software can also be used to inform employees about meeting policies that can help ensure maximum awareness throughout the organization.

Takeaways on professional collaboration in hybrid and remote workplaces

There’s always uncertainty when it comes to figuring out how to manage changes to the way we work. Let’s consider the emerging trends we’ve analyzed to provide tips on improving collaboration in a mixed-attendance environment.

  1. The number of meetings and their length could make or break your staff’s focus and readiness to collaborate. Take a close look at the way your company meets and establish the rules and norms that will make your employees the most productive and the least overwhelmed. 
  2. Virtual meetings are commonly used for collaboration in remote and hybrid environments. Embrace them by equipping your workspace with the collaboration tools that offer the features employees need to work together despite not sharing a physical space.
  3. In multilingual and diverse organizations, it’s important to take steps to ensure all workers can understand each other. Create customs that will support non-native speakers and train the entire staff on them.
Looking for online meeting software? Check out our catalogue.


Methodology

The data for Capterra’s 2024 State of Collaboration and Productivity Survey was collected in January 2024 among 6490 respondents in the U.S. (n=503), U.K. (n=496), Canada (n=499), Netherlands (n=498), Brazil (n=501), India (n=500), France (n=497), Spain (n=501), Germany (n=497), Italy (n=500), Mexico (n=500), Australia (n=500), and Japan (n=498). The goal of the study was to learn about the challenges workers face collaborating remotely across countries. Respondents were screened for employment at companies that offer either hybrid or fully remote work styles.