HR & Management
Need proof that meetings are a waste of time? Here it is
4 min read
28 April 2016
Much has been said about how much companies lose when it comes to time spent in meetings, with 40 per cent of respondents in a recent survey saying half of them are unnecessary.
We are all guilty of the old adage: “If in doubt, have a meeting!” This has led to much debate over how meetings could be a waste of time – spanning from staff resentment for travel for face-to-face meetings to UK SMEs wasting £63,700 per annum on meetings in general.
Let’s face it, the world seems to be telling us that large-scale meetings are not the way to go. Not convinced fate has deemed it so? Try these stats: 34 per cent of staff fall asleep during such sessions and 63 per cent of meetings don’t even have a planned agenda.
Furthermore, in a Harvard Business Review article, three consultants from Bain reported that after analysing the Outlook schedules of the employees of an unnamed “large company”, it found that one weekly executive meeting took up 300,000 hours a year – impressive given that we have about 8,700 hours a year to begin with. This, they said, is because your average weekly meeting creates knock-on time demands throughout the company.
Read more about meetings:
- The key to productivity? Stay silent, don’t have meetings and only say hi via email
- Ten tips for getting the most out of business meetings
- How a CEO of two companies spends his time on meetings
That being said, it comes as no surprise then that MeetingSquared research found that UK staff are spending increasing amounts of time preparing for, and attending meetings. In fact, the average worker attends 3.7 meetings every week, spending one hour nine minutes preparing for each meeting and one hour 22 minutes actually attending it. In any given working week, this means that office workers are spending more than a day preparing for, and attending meetings. Across a 40 year career, this equates to a total of 17,470 hours – two entire years of someone’s life or around ten years of work time.
“Meetings are an integral part of business life, but many are inefficient, with incorrect agendas and attendees unable to locate the required background information when they need it,” said Alister Esam, CEO od eShare. “With the average office worker spending more than a day every week on meetings, addressing the waste of hours resulting from ineffective and inefficient meetings could be the single biggest boost to productivity for any organisation.
“With many office workers stating that most meetings they attend are inefficient and could be shorter, it is clear that the entire meeting process needs to be addressed. Whether it is a large corporate or an SME, too much valuable resource is being wasted in inefficient meetings, which could be better spent elsewhere. Changing this will entail a collective focus on the approach to meetings across the business world, but smaller steps can be taken such as using the appropriate digital tools for meetings instead of traditional paper-based approaches.”
The research also claimed some 45.7 per cent said they often find their mind wondering onto other topics when in meetings, further highlighting the fact that meetings need to be more focused and goal-orientated. Also, 40 per cent suggested at least half of the meetings they attended are unnecessary.
An epidemic of inefficient and overcrowded meetings is plaguing the world’s businesses – and making workers miserable. David Grady, VP of information technology at State Street, has some ideas on how to stop it.