UK meetings take 40m office hours a week


Business People in Boardroom

How bad was your last work meeting? New research from Sharp suggests work meetings are getting worse with 44% of Brits claiming other colleagues doze off in them (though no-one owns up themselves). How reliable the stats are it's difficult to tell. Yet meetings are estimated to suck in 40m office hours a week.


Sharp's research claims 10% of office workers have sat through a presentation so lifeless they've invented reasons to leave (though perhaps it's surprising the number is that low).

A third of survey respondents (34%) said they spend up to 50% of the time during a presentation thinking about something else entirely, and 12% spend almost all (75-100%) of the presentation with their mind elsewhere, claims Sharp.

Multiple distractions

"Only 16% of people would describe the meetings they have at work as "inspiring" and 79% of workers say that they're more productive at their desks."

Meetings are also increasingly undermined by checking feeds from Twitter, Facebook and your email account; or checking news sites. Attention is quickly shredded.

However, much depends on company culture. Some companies are increasingly suspicious of remote working, well away from close physical daily contact with colleagues and a tiresome commute. Last year, Yahoo clamped down on the practice.

No talk option

"Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions," Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was quoted in a BBC report, "meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

"We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together." But perhaps not meeting more than once a day.

One useful tool some operations could utilise is Meeting Ticker which can quickly give you a sense of how much meetings cost in real time (just enter the number of attendees and their - rough - hourly rate).

It adds up fast. (Meeting Cost Timer is an alternative app.) Or how about introducing No-Talk Thursdays, as Jason Fried suggests.