Is your team as productive as it could be? Odds are, the answer is “no”. The average US employee spends 47 hours at the office each week. This is a lot more than the 40 hours employees should be working. And, this is the average. So, most companies and departments could use their time more efficient. Why? Meetings…

Figuring out how to become better is one of the main goals of HR management. But, without oversimplifying things, let’s state the obvious:

Meetings are one of the main reasons for low productivity and time loss when working.

Here are two important reasons why:

  1. The average effective employee spends 40-50% of their time in meetings.
  2. 2 in 3 meetings are failures

Yes, the average person spends half their workweek in conferences.
They are unproductive. As a result, everyone has to work more hours to make up the time loss.

That’s the bad news.

Now, the good news. A few simple tweaks can

  • improve productivity
  • make people happier
  • let everyone go home early
  • and much more.

By the time you finish this article, you’ll be well on your way to get similar results in your company.

Let’s start by discussing problem #1.

Nobody focuses on the meeting

According to a recent statistic, 92% of all employees multitask during meetings. So, most of them get sidetracked with things like…

  • Checking emails (69%)
  • Other, unrelated work (49%)
  • Eating (44%)

This is clearly not ideal.

If an employee can check emails, work and eat during a meeting, should they be there in the first place? Probably not. Productivity During Meetings Meme - 4 reasons Meetings Are Unproductive - Plann3r Inbound Meeting Scheduling

In a perfect world, you would control all your employees. Like so, you could make sure things like this don’t happen. But, that’s not realistic.
So, instead, let’s talk about what you can actually do. Help your team to stay focused, starting from today!

The first thing you should do, is replace phone calls with video calls. The reason is that 56% of all workers multitask most often during phone calls. For video calls, this is reduced to only 4%. This switch-over will greatly increase the focus of your employees.

The second tip I have, is to ask C-levels to make stand-up meetings a rule. A 1999 research paper found that we get the same amount of work done in 34% less time during standing meetings. This is because standing removes the temptation to multitask. Like so, meetings are kept tight and focused.

Of course, these are only short-term fixes. They don’t fix the underlying cause of poor meeting productivity. Fortunately, the next 3 topics will explain what the underlying causes are. Furthermore, it’ll give you the tools to fix them.

Multitasking is also one of the big traps for young companies.
Interested in reading more about it? Check out this blog post!

So, let’s continue on to arguably the biggest problem of any organization.

Scheduling meetings disrupts the work process

Jason Fried, CEO and founder of Basecamp, gives one answer in this TED talk. According to him, high-level professionals need long periods of uninterrupted concentration to get things done.

Frequent meetings stop this from happening. This isn’t only due to the fact that employees spend up to 50% of their time in them. A major other problem is the time wasted scheduling meetings. According to this Deloitte study, it should only take 30 seconds to schedule the average meeting.

Yet, because of

  • different time zones
  • conflicting schedules
  • and other considerations,

the average employee spends 4.8 hours each week scheduling them.

This results in $8,000+ wasted annually per employee. Multiply that by the amount of people are in your team. That’s how much money you can save!

A great tool to solve this is Plann3r.

This web app automgically schedules meetings at smart time slots.
When doing so, it takes into account

  • your online calendar(s)
  • travel-time
  • your location prior to the meeting
  • traffic at the the time of the meeting
  • time zones
  • your personal and professional preferences
  • and much more!

We’ll tell you about it at the end of the article.

But for now, let’s check out problem #3:

Quit having so many, period.

In the US alone, employees hold 25 work million meetings each day. 67% of these meetings are failures.
This is demotivating and wasteful.

And, actually, it doesn’t have to happen at all.
It could be solved by all the following alternatives:

  • Sending pre-recorded videos from our desktops or smartphones
  • Staying in touch with apps like Slack, WhatsApp and Skype
  • Directing each other to content via email and in-app messages

These operations make most meetings redundant. For example, why have catch-up meetings when everyone’s all caught up, all the time?

Exactly!

So, find ways to change your company’s processes in a way that minimizes the amount of meetings.

In our company, we use Slack to stay in touch and Plann3r for scheduling our meetings. Together, these tools help us avoid unnecessary meetings. As a result, they save us a lot of time.

Even better, both products’ core features are free to use. So, you can discover their value before opting-in completely.

Of course, your company isn’t able to cancel all its meetings, no matter how much software you use. Sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary to get your team together. This can be still be both virtually or physically.

In these cases, make sure to steer clear of mistake #4:

Unnecessarily Long Meetings

The famous economist John Galbraith once said:

“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”

To employees, meetings are an opportunity to talk instead of taking action; to delegate instead of assuming responsibility; to deflect instead of taking charge of one’s challenges.
Finding ways to fix this is the last “trick” to doing better with meetings.

How you do this is up to you.

Depending on your personal style and company, use

  • motivation
  • persuasion
  • and examples

to show people that long meetings aren’t a big deal. And, don’t forget to keep track of meeting lengths.
Like so, you know whether you’re making progress.

Now, let’s recap the 4 key reasons for unproductive meetings:

  1. Unnecessarily long meetings
  2. Meetings and scheduling disrupt top performers’ work
  3. Multitasking
  4. An unnecessarily high number of meetings

Now, you know what the most common meeting mistakes are. Hopefully, you now can easily identify and prevent them in your own company.

The question is: “What are you going to replace your old, ineffective processes with?”

Do you and your team say “no” to conferences altogether? Or, do you make way for a new, better kinds of meetings that are enjoyable for employees and useful to your company?

 

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