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Less meetings, more focused work
Applying ideas from computer performance optimization and reliability engineering to improve organizational productivity
At most companies, meetings are the cost of doing business, not a product that’s directly sellable to the customer.
And the numbers show: According to research from Fuze, unproductive meetings waste 15% of an organization’s collective paid time. For middle management, that figure increases to 35%. For upper management, that figure is 50%!
In fact, 70% of all meetings keep employees from working and completing their tasks.
According to The State of Meetings in 2020, 78% of workers believe that their meeting schedules are chaotic. 38% assign fault to the upper management, while 16% blame their direct manager.
Think about the percentage of people who didn’t have to be laid off in the name of productivity if only we could tame the meetings!
Meetings are an excellent tool for communication and decision making when they are used correctly. They provide a high communication bandwidth for quick back and forth dialogue around a topic. For everything else, there are more efficient tools.
Unfortunately, meetings are often overused and too expensive for what they achieve. This article won’t get into the nominal and real cost of meetings, but I hope you can relate.
I have an upcoming post about the hidden cost of meetings on knowledge workers.
Research from Atlassian found that the average employee attends 62 meetings per month, with half being considered “time wasted”.
Meetings as a misused tool is especially troublesome for knowledge workers (like programmers, designers, or writers) who require undisturbed focus for longer periods of time to produce any meaningful results.
Today’s knowledge workers typically spend more than 85% of their time in meetings, which studies show negatively affects people’s psychological, physical, and mental well-being. — MITSloan
The underlying issue with meetings is three simple facts:
Human time is a finite resource
Quality time is even rarer
Quality time with undivided attention is rarest
Due to economic challenges, many companies are in “war time” mode with a strong focus on efficiency.
Can we use this momentum to improve the efficiency of how we spend our work hours?
70% of all meetings are a waste of time, 70%! That is a lot of unproductive time that could have been better spent doing the actual work. The University of North Carolina surveyed 182 senior managers in various industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking —Forbes
Articles in this series
In this series I share my experience with a few ideas at organizational and personal level along with my learning.