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5 reasons your business meetings aren’t as productive as they could be

Meetings are the number one productivity killer in today’s business environment, with busy professionals attending an average of 60 meetings a month

Instant Offices’ Head of Marketing John Williams takes a closer look at the reasons why meetings may be hampering your productivity. Collaboration is crucial to the success of any business and while meetings are an important part of the process, unproductive sessions can actually have a negative effect.

According to a report by WorkFront, meetings are the number one productivity killer in today’s business environment, with busy professionals attending an average of 60 meetings a month. In a survey across the UK, 41% of employees said they feel more stressed after unproductive meetings, while 36% said they feel less motivated. Even more depressing is that SMEs in the UK reportedly spend over 41 hours a year in meetings – almost a full week of work – and waste a potential £637,000 on travelling to meetings every year.

Time for Change

With time being one of the most valuable assets we have, it is worth re-evaluating our meeting habits. Here are five reasons your sessions might not be as productive as they could be, and how to fix them.

1. You may be scheduling meetings that interrupt coworkers

Every time someone is interrupted at work it takes a few minutes to return to the original task they were concentrating on – and it all adds up. Rather than scheduling a meeting for any time recipients are free on their calendars, segment the day into blocks of time dedicated to uninterrupted working and time open for meetings – this creates a natural rhythm in the workplace and people know what to expect.

Early morning, mid-morning and mid-afternoon are good times to block for uninterrupted work time, during which disruptions should be discouraged unless completely necessary.

2. Are you spending 60 minutes on a meeting that could take 10 minutes?

With up to 67% of employees spending up to 4 hours a week preparing for their next status update meeting, it might be time to re-evaluate the way we approach different meetings and their purpose. Instead of a long, formal status meeting once a week, short, daily stand-up meetings can get the job done much faster and more efficiently.

A 10 minute recap of yesterday’s work and what’s on the agenda for today will keep team members up to speed, agile and far more efficient. Stand up meetings are for communication, not problem solving, so if larger discussions need to be had, private meetings are a more suitable platform.

3. There is no agenda

If you spend more time talking about problems than solutions in a meeting, it might be time to evaluate your staff meeting agenda. Each person attending a meeting should always be sent a brief so that they know what’s happened, and can immediately focus on discussing next steps and solutions when the meeting starts.

An agenda will ensure you stick to a plan and all staff should be encouraged to turn down meetings that don’t have a clear agenda or stated purpose.

4. Too many people are invited to meetings

Even more risky than inviting too many people to a meeting is inviting team members who really don’t need to be there. Not only is it a waste of their valuable time, but it also means the meeting is unlikely to stay on track.

The VP of Business Operations at Google says meetings should ideally consist of no more than 10 people, and that everyone who attends should be able to provide input, and if no input can be provided then they shouldn’t be there. It is also important to remember that attending meetings isn’t a badge of honour.

5. There’s little accountability for next steps

How often do meetings end without a conclusion, or with decisions to be made at a later stage? When this happens it’s easy for progress to come to a grinding halt and for no one to take accountability or ownership of next steps. This is why it’s crucial to clearly define the next steps and who is responsible for them before the meeting’s conclusion.

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