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To meet or not to meet: Are workplace meetings a waste of time?

23 Mar 2017

Meetings. The bane of many people’s existence. The thorn in their side. But to others, a meeting can be the highlight of their working week.

In other words, while some workers look at meetings as a vital necessity for success, others look at them as a complete waste of time and completely unnecessary, and then there are those that fall somewhere in between.You can have too much of a good thing, it seems.

To better understand this divide, West’s Unified Communication Services surveyed over 250 employees on their meeting habits and found three distinct types of meeting participants.

  • Meeting Loyalists: Representing 42% of the workforce, this group champions meetings, deeming them essential for achieving results. Unsurprising, this category of meeting attendee, is more likely to use a meeting agenda (46%), and say they’re actively engaged.
  • Meeting Fatigued: Making up 44% of employees, this group feels meetings are necessary, but that they don’t need to attend as many as they do. The large number of meeting fatigued employees indicates too many organisations still live by the “everyone’s invited” mantra.
  • Meeting Critics: Despite the bad reputation meetings often get, only 14% of employees feel meetings are unnecessary and prevent them from getting work done. While this group loathes meetings, they're also the least likely to use agendas or attend video calls - both tools proven to improve meeting productivity and engagement, according to West’s Unified Communication Services.

The report found that going off topic within a meeting reflects on employees’ attitudes towards meetings.

Twenty-six percent of meeting loyalists say that when one of their meetings derails off topic, they still end on time and complete the agenda. This attitude is severely skewed among the other groups, with just 5 percent of meeting fatigued and 8 percent of meeting Critics reporting the same outcome of side-tracked discussions.

Do agendas make a difference? It’s difficult to stick to an agenda that doesn’t exist, and surprisingly, many organizations still run agenda-free meetings. Only 37 percent of all employees surveyed always use agendas. Of those:

Always Use an Agenda for Work Meetings:

·       Meeting Loaylists: 46%

·       Meeting Fatigued: 32%

·       Meeting Critics: 27%

Meeting perception impacts remote behaviours

The survey also suggests that an employee’s overall outlook towards meetings might also impact their activity when dialing-in remotely.

Once again, Meeting Loyalists report high levels of engagement when joining hybrid meetings - where some participants are in the same conference room while others dial-in remotely. Fifty-nine percent of Meeting Loyalists say they’re engaged when dialing into a room full of other participants.

Engagement is down among other hybrid meeting goers, with 35 percent of Meeting Fatigued and 16 percent of Meeting Critics reporting active participation when dialing into a meeting where everyone else is in the same room.

Similarly, hybrid or entirely remote meetings can leave some employees feeling like a fly on the wall. In fact, 62 percent of Meeting Critics say they’re forgotten about and become passive listeners. This compares to 36 percent of Meeting Fatigued and 19 percent of Meeting Loyalists who report the same attitude.

For more information, check out the full report here.

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