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Minutes (Wasted) of Meeting: 50 Shocking Meeting Statistics

June 17, 2020

‘Meeting minutes’ - more like meeting hours. An increase in the amount of meetings is no surprise in today's hustle culture and the ease with which we can "grab time on someone's calendar". Meetings may seem to be a productive use of time, where employees discuss important points and get to a next step. However, quantity does not mean quality. The quantity of meetings have risen over the years, while the quality has dropped. Not only are meetings becoming more ineffective, they've also become more expensive.

We've helped you quantify your time in meetings, right here, in 50 statistics:

Statistics are from Doodle, Ovum, AskCody, ReadyTalk, Atlassian and WSJ.

Meeting Times

  • Time spent in meetings has been rising by 8% to 10% annually since 2000.
  • 51% of the surveyed employees agreed that the number of meetings are rising.

This could be due to the shift in work culture, as today’s companies are less hierarchical, hence, employees are more self-directed. Employee’s voices are being heard, and meetings are often the gateway to those ideas.

How much time does the average employee spend in meetings in 2019?

  • 41% reported their average meeting hour to be between 30 minutes and an hour.
  • 39% has meetings between 16 to 30 minutes.
  • 13% has meetings between 61 to 90 minutes.

Meeting length also increases with seniority.

How many meetings on average are people having per week?

  • 8 meetings per week across all employee types and company size.
  • 10 meetings per week for all employees above junior level.
  • 12 meetings per week for executive management and higher.
  • 17 meetings per week for VP, director and c-level roles in highly collaborative industries.

As expected,

  • 47% complained that meetings wasted their time the most at work.
  • 45% felt overwhelmed by the number of meetings they attended.

The problem sometimes might not be the time spent itself, but the inefficient use of that time.

Time Lost

  • 71% of professionals waste time every week due to unnecessary or cancelled meetings.
  • 31 hours are spent on unproductive meetings monthly.

We've spent days (even weeks) in our lives waiting for a meeting to start.

  • Average delay per meeting for employees is 10 minutes and 40 seconds, equivalent to 3 days and 2 hours lost annually.
  • Average delay for senior executives is 15 minutes and 42 seconds. That's 5 days and 19 hours lost annually!

Even figuring out where a meeting can take place is a time sink.

  • 40% of workers waste up to 30 minutes just searching for a collaborative space for meetings.
  • The average worker spends an hour and 9 minutes simply preparing for each meeting.

(Hint: Try the BOOQED app if you want to see a significant drop to your time spent searching for meeting space.)

Money Lost

Time is money. Not only is time lost, money is lost through poorly held meetings as well.

  • The salary cost of an hour-long meeting with 5 attendees (from specialist to director level) is $338 USD. Calculation here.
  • The cost of poorly organised meetings is $399 billion in the US in 2019 alone.
  • ...and $58.11 billion in the UK.

Almost half a trillion dollars wasted.

Methods to Connect

The power of physical connection remains despite the domination of technology.

  • 76% of professionals prefer face-to-face meetings over other methods.

     They feel like it’s easier to make important decisions. They also agreed on how meeting in person helps them understand the receiving party better.

  • 7% prefer conference calls.
  • 5% prefer video calls.
  • 4% prefer instant messaging/email.

There would most likely be a shift from preferring face-to-face meetings to preferring video conferencing due to the recent pandemic.  

With that being said,

  • Face-to-face meetings can result in a 60% productivity loss.

This could be a cause to the abundance of unproductive meetings.

Rise and Whine

Most prefer morning meetings, perhaps as a fresh start to the day.

  • 70% of professionals think that morning, specifically between 8am-12pm, is the best time to hold a meeting.  
  • 19% believe it to be the afternoon, between 12pm to 5pm.
  • 9% believe it to be between 6am to 8 am.
  • 2% believe it to be after 5pm, in the evening.

According to an article from FastCompany, we should rethink our morning meetings because they may not be as productive as we think they'll be. Non-morning people may come in rushed and unprepared. Alternately, those that work best in the mornings may get more focused, "deep work" done at that time.

Attention to Attendance

How can you hold a meeting without people? You can’t. Unless your quorum is one person and that person is the host.

Shockingly,

  • 96% of employees have missed meetings.
  • 91% have daydreamed during meetings.
  • 39% have slept during meetings.
  • 73% have worked on other things during meetings.

Along those lines,

  • 57% of professionals think that improperly attended meetings are the biggest cost to their company.

The majority agreed on the biggest cost as low attendance. If somehow 96% of employees invited don’t attend your meeting, expect more downstream costs waiting to happen.

Biggest Meeting Irritations

Even if people do attend, there are many annoyances that can disrupt the flow of a meeting. Here are what professionals think the biggest irritations in meetings are:

  • 55% thinks taking phone calls or making texts is the most irritating.
  • 50%: people who interrupt others.
  • 49%: arriving late or leaving early.
  • 49%: people who don’t listen to others.
  • 46%: people who talk about nothing for long periods of time.
  • 24%: people who eat during meetings.
  • 21%: people who don’t contribute to the discussion.
  • 9%: people who take notes on their laptops.

These, in turn, can factor into ineffective meetings. The consequences of those meetings can lead to weak results.

Consequences of Ineffective Meetings

  • 44%: ‘Not enough time to do the rest of my work.’
  • 43%: ‘Unclear actions leading to confusion.’
  • 38%: ‘Bad organization results in a loss of focus on projects.’
  • 31%: ‘Irrelevant attendees slows down progress.’
  • 26%: ‘Inefficient processes weaken client/supplier relationships.’

Bad meetings can be a huge detriment to the company, not just internally, but it externally affect relationships with clients. Don’t let the mess of meetings damage the company’s image.

Meeting for Success

So, what can you do to make a meeting more successful?

  • 72% of professionals believe that setting clear objectives is what makes a meeting successful.
  • 67% believe that it's having a clear agenda.
  • 35% believe that it's having less people in the room.
  • Visual stimulus like PowerPoint presentations are less important, with only 27% on that view.

The be-all and end-all of meetings lies in defining outcomes in other words, the goals that need to be achieved during and after discussion. Keep this in mind every time you schedule a meeting, or as feedback for your colleagues. That's going to be a lot of time and money saved in the long run.

So before you block 1 hour on your colleagues' calendars, consider first - can this be done in 20 minutes instead?

To understand more on the art of meetings, check out some of our blog posts on...

Best and Worst Places for a Business Meeting

5 Tips On How to Have An Effective Standup Meeting

For a fun treat, check out...

History of Meetings: From Agora to Zoom

Book a Meeting Space

A successful meeting requires a good, reliable meeting location. But, the search is over - you can book great meeting spaces on-demand with BOOQED. Currently available in four major Asian cities: Hong Kong, Singapore, Shenzhen and Shanghai. Download our app now, available in both Android and iOS.