Nearly everyone who is part of the modern workforce has been subjected to sitting through a time-wasting, unnecessary meeting. Not only is this an irritating experience that diminishes productivity, but it is also one of the costliest overhead expenses incurred by organizations. Yet, recent studies have shown that employees spend approximately 1/3 of their time at work in meetings and an average of 31 hours in meetings that aren’t productive every month. Whether these meetings take place in person or via a live video conference platform such as Zoom, these meetings are a huge drain on employee morale and company resources.
Why Meetings are Wasteful
It’s estimated that approximately $37 billion is spent on unnecessary meetings in the United States every year. In addition to that, studies indicate that having face-to-face meetings can cause up to 60% in productivity loss from employees. While some meetings are unavoidable, it’s important to your company’s bottom line to ensure that the time your employees spend in meetings is productive time. What exactly makes a meeting an unproductive one?
Before scheduling a meeting, you should always assess whether or not it’s a meeting that actually needs to happen. If the content is something simple and involves information that is easy to distill and present via an alternative, asynchronous communication tool (as discussed below), then that should always be considered for greater efficiency. If you need to brainstorm solutions with your team or need to convey complex information, then a live meeting (whether in person or via Zoom) would likely be the most effective way to do so.
Including People Who Don’t Need to Be There
Have you ever been required to attend a meeting where none of the information presented to you is relevant to you or your job? When you’re planning a meeting, you need to be sure that the only people present are the ones who absolutely need to be there. This will lead to better meeting participation, and it will keep your employees from wasting time that would be better spent on other tasks.
Off Topic Discussions
Failing to properly plan your meeting via the use of a detailed agenda that is sent out to attendees ahead of time can cause meetings to veer off topic. It also leads to rambling about irrelevant information and off-topic side discussions. An agenda containing everything that is to be talked about and giving floor time to the appropriate people is the best way of ensuring that you stay on task during your meetings.
Studies indicate that the average length of a meeting is one hour and thirty minutes. This is a huge chunk of time out of a workday. Look for ways to trim meeting times down. Agendas are helpful for this, as is carefully considering what topics are best covered during the meeting. Any side topics or other information that may be tangentially related to your meeting can be presented via an alternative, asynchronous communication tool (as discussed below).
The Real Cost of Your Meetings
Of course, the exact monetary cost of the meetings your employees attend will vary depending on factors like salary, number of employees involved in the meetings, and the amount of meetings your employees attend. Try estimating those figures for your company and see how much meetings are costing you!
Alternatives to Live Meetings
Once you’ve decided to eliminate unnecessary meetings from your organization, you will need to find alternative ways to convey information to your team. Asynchronous (one-way) communication tools allow your employees to view and respond to communications from fellow team members at their own pace. It also allows for more thoughtful responses than what you may get during a live in-person meeting.
Fortunately, there are a number of different options available to you. You may choose to use any one or more of these live meeting alternatives in a way that best suits your needs.
- Grapevine – Send and receive recorded video updates that your team can view and respond to at their own pace.
- Slack – Instant messaging system that can target specific colleagues or groups.
- G-Suite – Make, collaborate and share presentations, spreadsheets and documents.
- Email – Message your colleagues and allow them to respond at their convenience.
- Basecamp – Manage projects with message boards, document sharing, and scheduling.
Cut Costs by Cutting Unnecessary Meetings
When assessing the different asynchronous communication tools to replace unnecessary face-to-face meetings, keep in mind what your company culture is, as well as what kind of work your employees are doing. Also keep in mind communication styles and how frequently your teams need to communicate with one another.
No matter which asynchronous tools you decide to utilize, you will find that eliminating unnecessary meetings ensures your company is saving money. As an added bonus, expanding communication options beyond live meetings will improve individual and team productivity and collaboration.