Office workers waste 213 hours a year in meetings which could have been covered in an email – the equivalent of 27 working days, according to research. With many of these taking place on video calls, 47 percent admit they will turn their camera off and get on with their work if they think it is pointless.
However, it’s not just work tasks employees will do during a dull call – 21 percent have done some online shopping, 17 percent have made lunch, and 16 percent have tidied the house. And one in ten (11 percent) have brazenly stuck the TV on during a work meeting.
Workers sit through an average of three unnecessary meetings each week – which they “zone out” of after just 10 minutes and 36 seconds.
The research, of 2,000 office workers, was commissioned by Brother UK, which has launched its Meaningful Meeting Manifesto, to shine a light on productive meetings and best practice.
Grieg Millar, chief revenue officer at the business technology firm, said: “Attending a meeting which is ultimately meaningless might seem like an inconsequential thing at the time – but these calls and catch-ups all add up.
“The commercial impact on businesses can be significant. Essentially, every minute spent in an unproductive meeting is a minute not spent on revenue-generating activities.
“That’s why we created the Meaningful Meeting Manifesto, to help more businesses boost workplace productivity, and ensure their meetings are focused, valuable, and deliver the right outcomes.
“It’s not just about the hours wasted, it’s about the commercial loss – and businesses that recognise this, and change their meeting cultures, will create new opportunities to be more productive.”
The research went on to find that six in ten believe the subject matter is typically the main reason for a meeting to be boring, while 44 percent lay the blame with the person leading the meeting, which causes it to become tedious.
As a result of this growing animosity, 45 percent have even refused to attend one, because they believe it could have been covered off in an email.
It emerged from the research that time is an important factor as to whether a meeting is worthwhile – with 39 percent saying any get-together of colleagues shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes.
And 47 percent went on to say that keeping it under the half-hour mark is important, to ensure they are engaging and productive.
The time of day that meetings and calls are scheduled for can also have an impact on boredom levels, according to 39 percent of workers who attend meetings, the OnePoll.com research found.
For instance, 38 percent admit they are unlikely to accept an invite for a meeting to take place after 4pm.
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This could be because half of office workers have already “clocked-off” mentally by that point, with another 31 percent downing tools between 4pm and 5pm.
Mike Anderson, also from Brother UK, added: “The UK has a problem with meaningless meetings – and in the pursuit of better productivity, we have to get more businesses to kick the habit of needless calls and catch-ups that waste time.
“By challenging the meeting status quo, we hold the keys to unlocking a more productive work environment by focusing on time, structure, and better facilitation.
“Advocating for clear objectives, well-defined agendas, and post-meeting actions, injects purpose into meetings. Attendees come prepared, which leads to focused discussions and timely decision-making.
“What’s more, keeping them short, and hosting when people feel the most energised, helps deliver better results.
“Our research shows four in five feel most productive between 9am and 12pm – which suggests this period should be maximised for effective collaboration.”
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