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Are Meetings a waste of time?

Are meetings a waste of time?

The average employee spends two hours a week in ‘pointless’ meetings, potentially costing companies around the world more than £420 billion worth of time in 2019.

These were the findings of meetings scheduling platform Doodle in its State of Meetings Report 2019. The company examined data from 19 million meetings and commissioned interviews with more than 6,500 working professionals across the UK, Germany, Switzerland and the US.

Whats the detail findings?

The research found that the average worker spends three hours a week in meetings – two-thirds of meetings can be labelled a waste of time. Therefore, 24 billion hours will be lost to such gatherings over the next year.

Even more, 74% of German professionals, 72% of UK & 68% of US professionals  reported regularly losing valuable working time to poorly organised meetings.

Of the reasons they felt meetings were pointless, 89 per cent of respondents said they were ineffective or poorly organised, followed closely (88%) by conference calls with bad reception.

Common Behavioural Problems in Meetings

Respondents also pointed out common behaviours that lead to misused time during meetings were;

  • Colleagues taking phone calls or texting (55%)
  • Interrupting others (50%)
  • Not listening to others (49%)
  • Arriving late or leaving early (49%)
  • Talking about things not relevant to the meeting (46%)
  • Eating during the meeting (24%)
  • Not contributing at all (21%
  • Taking notes on a Laptop (9%)

More than a third (37%) of those polled believe unnecessary meetings are the biggest cost to their organisation. An overwhelming 72% said setting clear objectives is key to running efficient meetings, followed by 67% who want a clear agenda.

When asked about the true cost of a wasted meeting, 44% of those polled said they mean they don’t have enough time to do the rest of their work. Unclear actions lead to confusion for 43%, while 38% said poor organisation leads to a loss of focus on projects. Irrelevant attendees slowed progress for 31% and 26% believe inefficient processes weaken client and supplier relationships.

However, employees clearly still see overwhelming value in face-to-face meetings, with 76% of respondents saying they prefer to meet in person rather than over the phone or through video conferencing.

Gabriele Ottino, CEO of Doodle, commented:

“We commissioned this report because we wanted to have a better understanding of what makes a bad meeting, and how it affects people on a daily basis. What’s positive is that within the huge financial implications lie simple issues that can easily be fixed. Things like setting a clear agenda, only inviting relevant people and proper planning can be easily implemented, and if we stick to these principals there’s a clear opportunity to make a huge savings, cut wasted time and reduce irritation to employees – benefiting everyone.”

About the Author
Steve was the Operations Director of a UK based TMC (Travel Management Company) for 5 years and also runs a successful Travel Agency. He has extensive experience in both business and leisure travel, living and visiting many of the countries he recommends in his travel blogs.