Research project about workplace meetings in Sweden

I am planning a research project on workplace meetings in which I want to start with a large survey (probably online) of individual citizens about their meetings at work as well as elsewhere (especially in various forms of volunteering, citizen engagement and activism). So, instead of sampling organizations, I am sampling individuals, which - I believe - has rarely been done in our field, and I’m curious what results this might bring.

Based on the answers of the mass-survey, I intend to identify a limited number of respondents for follow-up telephone interviews which will obviously go into more depth. And finally, I would like to actually visit some of these respondents at their workplace to gather ethnographic data about the meetings in that organization so that I’ll have a nice mix of quantitative and qualitative data.

As I am writing the project description, I am thinking that it would be interesting to do this in an internationally comparative way and so I thought I’d mention this here to see if anyone would be interested in such an endeavour. So even if this not something you can/want to do now, but perhaps sometime in the future, let me know so that we can work together to make the datasets as compatible as possible from the start.

Also, please let me know about any similar survey based studies (ongoing, planned, or past)!

So just to be a bit more specific about the research questions, here are the five core dimensions of the intended project as they currently stand:

  1. provide a quantitative data-set about the characteristics of organizational meetings across industries (including, but not limited to: number of meetings, duration, purpose, participants, methods and technologies used, distribution of formal roles, etc),
  2. identify common beliefs about meetings and how they are experienced by participants (e.g. their role in the organization, how they work and how they should work, what makes a meeting good/bad, etc)
  3. explore the relationship between meeting cultures and working environment as well as job satisfaction.
  4. analyze how participation in meetings outside the workplace, especially in voluntary organizations, social movements, and other forms of citizen engagement, affects perceptions of workplace meetings and how they are organized (e.g. do members of popular movements bring useful meeting skills – such as facilitation skills – to their workplace?).
  5. analyze how digital technology affects meeting practices and meeting cultures, in particular how information technologies are used to either improve or substitute face-to-face meetings (and with what effect).

What do you think?

That sounds very interesting. I would be interested in colloborating on this. With MeetingQuality we already store information by individual across multiple meetings for a subset of this data. Comparing our existing results to your proposed more in depth approach may lead to further opportunities.

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Thanks Kelvin! I was going to approach you anyway, so it’s good to know you’re interested. Could you email me some details about your dataset, especially what variables you are measuring so that I can consider those when I design the project?

BTW: why don’t you post a few words about MeetingQuality here on Kunsido as there are many people here who are probably not familiar with it…

Hi Christopher,
CCG are happy to support this study with connecting you with MeetingSphere users. We are interested in getting more user-data on the benefits of using MeetingSphere. /Pierre

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Thanks Pierre, the project where I’m looking for organizations using digital technology in meetings is a different one. In the one here, I’m not starting with organizations but with individuals, regardless of their organisational affiliation. So the organizations will be selected based on the responses from the survey.

BTW: what is MeethingSphere anyway? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Just found this one from 2011 by CfL in Denmark: CfLs Indikator om tid og resultater.

Hi Christoph

We have around 20 different sets of questions depending on the type of meeting. Actually when that discussion was occurring at the conference I should have spoken up because any abstract meeting typography should be able to devolve into the discrete meeting sets that we sell. I know this is important because it is what customers recognise as something they are willing to pay for.

For a general meeting we ask the following:

  1. Purpose of the meeting: One of…Make Decisions, Make Plans, Generate Ideas, Communicate Info or Don’t know.

  2. How satisfied were you with the meeting: Completely Satisfied, Satisfied, Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, Dissatisfied, Completely dissatisfied.

  3. Rate each attendees contribution. We provide a list of each attendees name and get each attendee to rate the contribution of every other attendee as one of negative, average or very positive contribution.

  4. Free form feedback.

I have been working with Pierre Wettergren and we have already translated into Swedish the general meeting, project team meeting, steering committee meeting, agile project management meetings (retrospective, demonstration and backlog). Over the next few weeks we will translate stakeholder meeting, program meeting, portfolio and board meetings.

If you would like to see MeetingQuality in action. Create an electronic calendar invite and invite a colleague or me to a meeting and also include (There has to be more than one person at the meeting). MQ will email the questions just as the meeting starts. If you want the Swedish version then create a separate calendar invite with one other attendee and invite There is also an iPhone app which I am happy to send you details for if you would like.

Let me know if you would like to use the MeetingQuality engine to distribute your surveys based on a calendar invite, email reply to survey or web questionnaire followed by results returned in 24 hours to all participants. Additionally there is an iPhone version with the questions and live results.

I have been meaning to put something up on kunsido especially as I am collaborating with Martin Duffy and John Kello on another series with respect to strategy meetings and safety meetings. I see Pierre has already written something so I will also get onto this.



Kelvin McGrath

31 Mountain View Cres
West Pennant Hills NSW 2125
Mobile: +61 437 005 235
Skype: kelvincmcgrath

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Hi Christoph, I like the set of research questions you have outlined, I am especially interested in the 5th one on technology in meetings. If I can help you with that in any way, let me know.

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Good to know! I will get back to you once the project starts and we formulate the actual questions. Right now, for the funding application it might be helpful if you are aware of any previous survey based studies about technology use. My sense is that a lot of what has been done is about various conferencing technologies. And Group Support Systems, of course.

This is an interesting item with a lot of potential for analysis, especially if you have longitudinal data involving the same people. But do people actually take the time to rate everyone, especially in bigger meetings? I could imagine that that exercise alone will make people more conscious of how meetings are run. Is there a possibility to distinguish between process contributions and content contribution, esp. for the meeting chair?

Not for this particular project since the questions about meetings will be part of a much larger set of questions so that we can analyze the answers based on industry, type of organization, or the respondents engagement in non-work meetings. But thanks for the offer, I will keep it in mind for other projects.

Dear Christoph,
The idea of a big survey about meetings in Sweden is a very good one. Especially when you could compare the results with those of other countries.
In collaboration with a professional research company, I did a national survey on meetings in the Netherlands twice, once some 15 years ago and the second time about 5 years ago. The telephonically interviewed persons were a cross-section of the working population (so, only working place meetings).
We focussed on the working time spend in meetings by men, women, managers, employees etc. and the way they experience all kinds of meetings (efficient, boring, useful, etc.). As you might expect, we defined a meeting as a gathering of two or more people intending to talk and/or decide about their common future. This is general and limited enough a definition to match with what most people usually think themselves.
If you are interested in the questionnaires and the most important resultst I can translate them info English and send them to you towards the time you really start elaborate your idea (I am in Italy untill the end of September)
Cheers, Wilbert

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Were the results published anywhere? That would be very interesting! Your surveys might be the only ever representation telephone surveys on meetings!

Yes, very much so. I appreciate your offer to translate, but even the Dutch version will do to start with.

Who funded the survey?

We have some data that may be useful, as I’m sure many of the other vendors do as well. You know MeetingQuality, of course. You may also want to look at what Meeting Booster collects and see if they may be willing to share anonymized results.

We also have a couple of surveys out there. For example, I leave this one open and review results occasionally. If you think it would be useful to build on that, I’d be happy to alter the welcome page with more neutral language.

Then, for our consulting projects, we run an initial assessment that consists of these parts:

  1. A general survey sent to conveners and participants both covering basic meeting practice
  2. A set of survey questions just for the folks who most often lead meetings. If you can use Spanish, I can send over the questions we used most recently.
  3. A technology review (natch)
  4. A meetings inventory, where we work with the client to quantify the number and type of meetings they run. In a smaller business, typing and clarity about a meeting’s purpose is sometimes tricky to figure out.
  5. Meeting observation
  6. Interviews

In our latest project, the consultant running the interviews hit on a fascinating question. She asked people about their meetings, then after they’d described them, asked: “Does this way of meeting have any impact on you personally?”

As this was a particularly dysfunctional group, she got all kinds of stories about health issues, schedule upheaval, anxiety, depression, family time impacts… very dramatic, and not an approach I would have considered before.

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Well, here’s our work, which is survey-based, about the effectiveness of different meeting modes (audio-conf, video-conf, telepresence, viz a viz face-to-face.Standaert_Muylle_Basu_An empirical study of the effectiveness of telepresence as a business meeting mode_Published.pdf (511.7 KB)

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I send the Dutch survey results to your university email, Christoph. The survey was funded by the Dutch Railways.

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Thank you everyone for sharing your related work. The project proposal is now submitted and in October I’ll know whether I get the funding. Keep your fingers crossed.

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