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How many hours are wasted in meetings each week?

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ShoreTel Build a Better Business Meeting

American workers spend a lot of time in meetings. And why not? On paper, meetings make perfect sense as an organized way to keep teams in touch, update other departments about an effort’s progress, share business intelligence and in general keep channels of communication open around the company.

On paper.

What’s your meeting style? Take the fun ShoreTel Business Meeting Challenge and find out.

In reality, all of that business meeting time isn’t very well spent. Consider:

  • By some counts, as many as 25 million business meetings are held in the U.S. each day.
  • According to the software developer Atlassian, most employees attend 62 meetings per month, and consider 31 of the hours spent in them wasted.
  • Why wasted? First, 91% of reported daydreaming at some point during the session, 73% said they did other work, and 39% admitted to sleeping.
  • Some 41% complained that meetings were the biggest time-waster in the office.
  • All that talking comes with a real cost – specifically $37 billion in salary cost wasted each year in unnecessary meetings.

Who’s In Control Here?

One reason meetings can be unproductive is not using the right meeting technology. With today’s workers more mobile and located in different geographies, it’s become essential to have the right meeting platform. For example, communication technology like ShoreTel Connect helps individuals collaborate and communicate on a laptop, tablet, smartphone, desk phone and softphone. It provides a meeting experience that enables screen sharing, web co-browsing, calendaring, instant messaging, set established agendas and more.

But still, not everyone takes advantage of new meeting technology like ShoreTel Connect. And even if they do, there are a host of other issues that make meeting ineffective. So we’re left with the question: Are all these meetings worth it?

One problem is that these sessions are often badly run. By some estimates, 25% of executive meeting time is spent on irrelevant issues. The Wall Street Journal suggests that 80% of the time spent meeting could be eliminated just by following a detailed agenda. In other words, meetings that have a clear objective and are tightly run can be brisk, productive and relatively painless.

According to NPR, one reason meetings drag on is because of something called “Parkinson's Law,” which states that tasks take as much time as you plan for them. So, if you schedule two hours for a conversation, two hours is how long you’re going to be talking.

But there are two sides to that sword, said Steven Rogelberg, professor of organizational science at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. Take the same agenda, give it half as much time, “and lo and behold, when they’re given half as much time at the onset, they finish in half as much time! And the quality of the meeting is just as good,” he told NPR.

So, we’ve established three things:

  1. We spend a lot of time in meetings.
  2. That time isn’t well-used.
  3. We could improve the situation if we wanted to.

Use meetings to accomplish a specific objective, have a clear agenda and stick to it, and schedule less time for each one. Chances are you’ll exert less energy trying to stay awake, and more time getting real work done.

ShoreTel is hosting a fun challenge that will identify your business meeting style. Take the ShoreTel Business Meeting Challenge to find out if you’re a Meeting Maverick, Meeting Multitasker, or Meeting Maximizer.