When It Comes to Early Morning Meetings, It’s More About Company Culture

Jun 20, 2024

For the past couple years now, a debate has been raging in corporate America over what is an increasingly controversial topic: early morning meetings.

Headlines like “Is It Ever OK to Have an 8 a.m. Meeting?” “8 AM Work Meetings: Reasonable or Outrageous?” and “The Furor Over 8 AM Meetings” capture the inflamed passions of both entry-level workers and C-suite executives on the topic. Some claim meetings at this time are reasonable, beneficial and, by very nature of their timing, more efficient, while others claim that scheduling meetings before 9 a.m. is unreasonable and alienating to employees, particularly those with children.

Korn Ferry weighed in on the debate recently, and it caught my attention because the piece wasn’t about taking sides. Rather, the article reinforced that it’s not necessarily about the timing of the meetings; it’s about the company’s culture and the way in which meetings are scheduled. 

This makes a lot of sense. Before blocking off that 8 a.m. time slot on everyone’s calendar, you’ll want to consider your company’s existing culture. Are working hours clearly fluid, and were they always communicated as such? Where are people located—and does everyone on the team know what their geographical differences are? For example, it’s to be expected that someone located on the West Coast might need to log on at 8 a.m. for a meeting if many other team members are located on the East Coast or in Europe. Do you have a demanding work environment? Are you client-centric? All of these considerations are important when considering pre-9 a.m. meetings.

Then, of course, it’s important to draw in your employees when scheduling these meetings. Before simply mandating an 8 a.m. (or earlier) start time, reach out to team members and see if that time would work for them. This shows care and consideration—both of which are important for employees to feel seen and supported, which ultimately leads to better engagement (and more enthusiasm for early morning meetings!).

For some individuals, having this bit of advance notice can also spell the difference between a “sure” and a “no way.” Personally, I find I am always most productive in the morning and would be open to an early meeting, but my regular childcare doesn’t start till 9 a.m. With some advance notice, though, I could arrange coverage for the hour prior and make it work.

Importantly, explain to your people why you’d want to have the meeting then. There has to be a reason—and if there isn’t, just don’t hold it then. As Korn Ferry notes, that early time might end up being the best option for collaboration, but “it also might be a meeting that just as easily could be done an hour later, without creating worker angst.”


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