Beyond Face-to-Face: A Field Study of Electronic Meetings in Different Time and Place Modes

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In this article, we present a field study of using an electronic meeting system to support actual meetings in 4 different time and place modes within a large company. The meeting descriptions provide concrete case illustrations of how different meeting modes can work, what types of effects can occur, and factors that contribute to success. Analysis of these meetings focuses on 3 main areas. First, commonalities and differences between these cases are examined to provide insights into how electronic meetings may be affected by the time-place mode in which they occur. Positive findings from previous field studies of EMS use in face-to-face meetings are found to extend to distributed meeting environments. This includes increased productivity, more active participation, and increased buy in and ownership of the meeting results. The distributed meeting modes are also found to impose new challenges related to facilitation and maintaining participation and engagement in the meetings. Among these cases are examples of meetings that use multiple time-place modes to accommodate different components of the overall meeting process. These multimode meetings represent a major trend in group work and provide new options for meeting design.