As summer comes to an end, the out of office memos begin to slow, and employees return rejuvenated, but also facing a mounting pile of work as the autumn months are notoriously busy across all industries.

Despite an increase in workload, how can managers ensure that productivity remains high and that employees maximize their time to reach peak efficiency?

As communication and collaboration preferences are often as diverse as the communities they support, companies need to make an effort to understand the groups that make up their workforce.

And according to new data pulled directly from cloud-based communications and collaboration platform Fuze, understanding and adhering to worker preferences, especially within remote or distributed teams, is essential to productivity.

Having analyzed over 5 million workers and 2/5 million meetings, the Fuze report highlighted the following key findings: 

Each Coast and West Coast meeting preferences.

Meetings on both coasts are most likely to take place Tuesday through Thursday, and unsurprisingly, the least popular workday for meetings is Friday.

East Coast workers predominantly hold all meetings Monday through Friday, while West Coast workers are beginning to hold some meetings on the weekends (5 percent).

West Coast meetings peak during the morning hours, with 63 percent of all meetings taking place between 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

However, East Coast workers are more likely to hold meetings in the afternoon compared to their West Coast counterparts. Yet, workers on the West Coast are more likely to hold meetings over a larger part of the day, well into the evening and late-night/early morning hours.

Make meetings brief and keep workers' future schedules in mind.

Keeping meetings to an hour (or less) is preferred by workers, as 26 percent of employees will drop out of a business call or online meeting if it runs over 60 minutes, and 11 percent will drop if a call goes over 30 minutes. 

Instead of defaulting to 30- and 60-minute meetings, consider switching your calendar settings to 25 and 50 minutes to improve meeting efficiency if all attendees are based in the same country. Not only will this increase the likelihood of meetings starting on time, but it will also give employees an opportunity to regroup, check emails, and have a moment to re-energize on days booked full of meetings.

Global meetings are the new norm (but they will extend your meeting time).

As more teams expand to encompass a global workforce, it's important to understand the impact of including colleagues from numerous countries. The duration of a meeting increases dramatically for each new country added to the meeting.

Moving from one country to two countries doubles the average meeting length from 19 to 38 minutes. Including four or more countries triples the length of the meeting (57 minutes). 

While keeping meeting lengths shorter makes sense when collaborating with teams based within one country, it's best to intentionally schedule longer meetings with international teams.

With participants from three countries, schedule 60-minute meetings, and for meetings with participants from four or more countries, schedule 75-minute meetings.

Bringing it home

It's clear that employee communication preferences vary greatly based on geography, engagement techniques, and technologies. They also differ across generations, which is important for organizations to consider as many workforces currently employ teams across five different generations.

While it's important to arm people with the technologies they need to be successful in their field, ensuring that employees are incentivized to do their best work all comes back to one thing: culture.

If employees feel like their preferences are being understood and applied to company practices, they will not only have the resources they need to do great work, but also the desire, which can lead to higher efficiencies, strengthened company culture and, ultimately, benefit the bottom line.