Money & Business

Report: Pointless Workplace Meetings Costly, Time-Consuming

By / Feb 4, 2019 (Nattanon Kanchak/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A report from the software company Doodle suggests that hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted on ineffective workplace meetings each year. But a few tweaks could help matters.

Are all those boring, disorganized office meetings costing your association a whole lot of money?

A recent study says yes—and in a big way. The State of Meetings Report 2019—from Doodle, a company that offers online meeting-scheduling software—argues that pointless meetings will cost businesses worldwide an estimated $541 billion in 2019. Most of that, around $400 billion, will be lost by organizations in the U.S.

Doodle analyzed data from more than 19 million meetings in four countries—the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Switzerland—and interviews from more than 6,500 workers. On average, the report says, professionals spend two hours a week in pointless meetings.

Among the study’s other findings:

Meetings, meetings everywhere. While most respondents (76 percent) expressed a preference for meeting in person, face-to-face meetings suck up a lot of time. Fifty-four percent of professionals said their meetings are longer than half an hour; 17 percent said theirs last an hour or more. With nearly a quarter of U.S.-based respondents saying they take part in five or more meetings each week, that time can really add up.

When the wrong people show up. Often the biggest inefficiencies are linked to poor attendance or over-attendance. About a third of respondents said meetings in which key people are missing are a significant waste to their organization, while 28 percent said the same about meetings in which too many people take part.

A big annoyance. A full 89 percent of respondents said ineffective or poorly organized meetings are more annoying than calls (88 percent) or video meetings (86 percent) with bad reception. Additionally, nearly half (44 percent) said badly organized meetings eat into productive time, while 43 percent said that when meetings lead to unclear actions, they create confusion.

What’s the best time to meet? If you’re forcing people to meet after 5 p.m., you’re probably doing it wrong. Seven out of 10 respondents said they prefer to meet between 8 a.m. and noon. Just 19 percent said they like meetings between noon and 5, and only 2 percent are OK with evening meetings. Interestingly, there was a notable contingent, around 9 percent, that said they prefer meetings in the early morning, between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.

In a comment on the company’s blog, Doodle CEO Gabriele Ottino saw the bright side of the findings.

“What’s positive is that within the huge financial implications lie simple issues that can easily be fixed,” he said. Solutions like “setting a clear agenda, only inviting relevant people, and proper planning can be easily implemented.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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