Productivity Academic Pushes False Brainstorming & Meeting Myth

“Of course there are things like brainstorming, having meetings and meeting clients that are better done in the office, but many people also spend lots of time during their day doing things like answering emails and that it is just as efficient to do from home.”

This late-2021 ‘wisdom’ belongs to John van Reenen. A professor at the London School of Economics who studies productivity.

Oh dear.

The balance he seeks to achieve is seriously wonky.

And let me state the obvious. I now have skin-in-the-game of our ‘remote’ future.

Yet there’s so much to debunk about his sentence above I feel compelled to speak.

As with the entire academic fraternity lately, they damn any alternative that they and their bubble deem unwelcome through the faintest of praise.

To cite ‘answering emails’ as the only example of an out-of-office efficiency – especially when giving a trio for the ‘other’ side – appears a typical university dereliction of duty we are sadly being suffocated with more as each day passes at the moment.

It is not for solely the knowledge workers of the white-collar economy for whom deep work, general admin and dare I say telephone calls are ‘just as efficient to do from home’. To name but three.

Then there’s the sample for tasks ‘better done in the office’;

“…brainstorming, having meetings and meeting clients.”


My first reaction was, ‘boy, this guy needs my help!’

For all three of these, I have witnessed – with firm evidence when being privy to their ‘before & after’ – how much better each can be when done over video, rather than as they were in-person.

I guess my personal struggle right now is finding people who sense this can actually be the case and wish to see the light.

Yet my chagrin swells when I realise that so much of our media coverage here is filled by people saying this trio can only be done live, IRL, back in the office

I am certainly not one of the ‘remote-only’ inner-sect members. But I absolutely know the enormous benefits – in wellbeing, quality and productivity terms – of when and how to conduct each of those three for the betterment of everyone involved and the enterprise they pursue.

For someone of this person’s standing to dismiss this so casually (whenever anyone says, “of course…” always smell a rat) is heart-breaking.

If you agree with the Prof, then may I politely suggest that there’s a way of doing them (and doing them better) to which you are currently unaware. Let me help you.

I’ll now point you in what might be your first step of a new direction. Here’s just a single tip for each [my book and brain have literally thousands more for you] to get you started. Try these to get cracking…

brainstorming – get everyone to solo-storm alone beforehand in advance of your booked meeting to generate ideas

having meeting – have an agenda (really, but a proper one)

meeting clients – hint: when you align specific types of prospect meetings with your sales process (true process, that pattern of events and actions that overwhelmingly lead to you winning business), it’s amazing what you can unleash using video…

(…and imagine what more ideas could release your ambitions to motor…)

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