Meetings can take up a significant portion of the workday, but some managers are finding creative ways to reclaim the time.
- Sometimes, letting a meeting run long because of personal or off-topic conversation can be an important part of relationship building with clients and contractors, but most of the time, long meetings just take away from other work.
- Finding creative ways to force a meeting to stay on track can be vital to streamlining the workday.
- In one instance, New York startup Apostrophe executives decided to stand for an entire meeting, effectively shortening it to 20 minutes, reports The New York Times.
- Other companies are taking creative approaches to streamline the day, such as mandatory zero-meeting days, or giving employees uninterrupted work time.
Why it’s news
Meetings are an important way to ensure a company is on the same page and working together on a given task. They also allow employees to voice concerns or suggest new ideas. However, too many meetings which run too long can negatively affect employee productivity and the office culture.
In one study, office employees spent around 18 hours weekly in meetings—a $25,000 payroll cost per employee. Not only are excessive meetings a waste of money, but about 39% of employees in the same study feel that the meetings they attended were not helpful to them, The New York Times reports.
The problem of excessive meetings worsened during the pandemic. Remote work made spontaneous chats with coworkers or managers more difficult. As a result, managers scheduled set meetings, which can often run into more extended discussions. Employers also worried that employees were not being as productive as they should be, causing employers to schedule meetings where they could check in on employee progress.
Companies are taking creative approaches to resolving the problem. Some are standing throughout the meeting, keeping attendees uncomfortable and incentivized to talk quickly, others, like the Lactation Network, are allowing employees to opt out of any meeting—no matter who is attending.
Others have instituted strict no-meeting days during the week. Microsoft attempted this model successfully, as 73% of the 435 employees surveyed said no-meeting Friday improved their well-being, and another 77% said it helps them focus on work.
However, there are some downsides to strictly enforcing no-meeting days. For companies that operate across different time zones, this can make scheduling necessary meetings more difficult. Additionally, some employees may be planning meetings during these designated times anyway because they know a difficult-to-reach person will definitely be available, The New York Times reports.