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Iryna Viter

Unproductive Meetings Under the Microscope: Statistics That Demand Attention [+Infographic]

Unfortunately, unproductive meetings are still shaping the workplace. Discover the shocking statistics and their impact on businesses.

We all need meetings in the workplace, but somehow they just won't work right. And the more we let the problem linger, the bigger the ineffective meetings epidemic is going to become.

Looking at the very core of it, there are two challenges. One, we simply have too many meetings in our calendars. Two, most of them are dysfunctional get-togethers aka tea ceremonies with lots of talking, few goals, unclear purpose, and no takeaways.

Sounds familiar?

We decided to investigate recent meeting trends and put the status quo under the magnifying glass.

Uncovering the extent of unproductiveness

A recent survey conducted by the University of North Carolina shed light on the state of meetings in the corporate world. 182 senior managers from diverse industries shared their thoughts, and the results were eye-opening.

A staggering 65% expressed that meetings interrupt their workflow, while an even larger 71% deemed meetings as both unproductive and inefficient. To top it off, 64% revealed that meetings are robbing them of valuable time for deep thinking and reflection.

The meetings statistics from Zippia's research are a wake-up call for organizations everywhere, too. With 15% of time devoted to meetings and 71% of those meetings being considered unproductive, it's clear that something needs to change. After all, the average worker spends 31 hours per month in meetings that do not yield positive results.

This is a significant drain on productivity and a waste of precious time. And while Monday and Tuesday are often claimed to be the best days for team meetings, the value you get out of those meetings is the real indicator to be looking at.

It's high time for organizations to take a step back and reevaluate their meeting practices to ensure they're making the most of their time.

Pre-mid-post-pandemic time spent in meetings

Just how much time do we spend in meetings, and how long does each of those meetings last?

Numbers vary. But they do have one thing in common: the excessiveness.

In the pie chart below, you can see how long average meetings lasted in 2022, according to Zippia.

But there's also another important fact unproductive meetings statistics are telling us: the bog is getting thicker. And COVID-19 had a part to play.

Before COVID-19: The era of productivity drain

Before the pandemic, meetings were often seen as a productivity drain. A 2019 survey by Doodle found that for 54% of respondents, average meetings lasted between 30 min and 1 hour. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the traditional way we conduct meetings, causing a spike in virtual meetings, while making them shorter and longer at the same time.

During COVID-19: The rise of short meetings

Microsoft reported a 10% increase in overall meeting time in 2020, but there was also a 22% increase in short, 30-minute or less meetings. Doodle also reported a 10.8% increase in 15-minute speed meetings in 2020.

This trend towards shorter, more focused meetings may indicate that professionals were seeking a more productive and efficient use of their time in meetings during the pandemic. But according to a study by Reclaim, professionals spent more than half of their 40-hour workweek in meetings, equating to 21.5 hours per week in 2021.

After COVID-19: The new normal

As the world begins to return to a post-pandemic normal, it remains to be seen how meetings will be impacted. Will there be more productive meetings? Will most meetings get cancelled and people make a shift to asynchronous work? And if not, will we do anything to increase the operational efficiency at the workplace?

A Deputy 2022 survey analyzed the time US workers spend in meetings, with a special focus on differences across industries and states. The results showed that the typical US employee still spends between 30 minutes to 1 hour in a meeting (41.8%). But even if the length of meetings didn't change much, the number of ineffective meetings an average employee attends each week has.

New studies suggest that 60% of respondents now have more meetings than they did before the pandemic, while 54% of them said they have a lot more virtual meetings. Today, an average white collar has between 11 and 25 workplace meetings every week.

The cost of unproductive meetings

Wasted time means wasted money. So let's do the math here.

A staggering 11 million meetings take place in the US every day, says Business Insider. Unfortunately, a third of those meetings are deemed unproductive, leading to a hefty annual cost of $37 billion in wasted time and resources.

How do you pinpoint the time waste from meetings attended at your company? It's easy. Calculate how much a specific employee makes per hour and how many inefficient video calls they attended last month. And there you have it, your productivity and money loss.

For better understanding, here's another reference.

inefficient meetings per week waste business money

Unproductive meetings can be a dangerous drain on both time and resources. With the average professional spending more than half of their 40-hour workweek in meetings, it's crucial to prioritize efficient and productive meetings to ensure success in the workplace.

From switching to async work to tracking the cost of meetings — there are many steps that can be taken to avoid the dangers of unproductive meetings.

So, let's strive towards creating meetings that are valuable, productive, and drive success in the workplace. The future of meetings may be uncertain, but by prioritizing efficiency and productivity, we can ensure that the cost of unproductive meetings remains low.

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