By Daniel Hunter

Conference call service provider Powwownow has revealed that travel costs and time spent on the road and in face-to-face meetings cost UK companies a staggering £15,979 per head, every year. As a result, UK SME businesses are potentially wasting £637,000 per annum on meetings, which could be held via conference call.

The survey results reveal the average businessperson attends an astounding 207 meetings a year, amounting to 636 hours lost sitting through face-to-face meetings, as well as the equivalent of five working days spent just travelling to meetings.

The survey found the average meeting of six people costs £394.80; once salary, cost of travel and time out of the office is taken into account. By comparison, a conference call of the same nature would cost just £46.44.

More than just loose change, UK businesses spend over £510k on employees travel to meetings per annum. The survey also reveals nearly one in ten (9%) businesspeople spend a hefty £4,800 on travel to meetings every year.

Notorious for niceties, Powwownow reveals that Brits' gift of the gab gobbles up forty-one hours per year, the equivalent of a full working week every year. Costing businesses big bucks for small talk, chitchat costs companies a tidy sum of £756.87 per employee, resulting in a cost of over £113k every year.

The research found a fifth (20%) resent the time wasted travelling to meetings, with almost half (45%) stating they get less work done on days they leave the office to attend a meeting. To add fuel to the flames, more than one in ten (15%) frustrated employees are forced to work out of hours to make up for time spent out of the office.

The survey highlights how more than one in ten (12%) finds face-to-face meetings a waste of time every time.

Powwownow's Marketing Director, Robert Gorby, adds: "Meetings play an integral role in the business world, but the amount of time and money British businesses spend on pointless face-to-faces is staggering and unnecessary.

"At Powwownow, we are all about low-cost and reliability. Basically we just want to help businesses get things done. That's why it didn't come as a surprise in our poll that over a third (35%) of Brits claimed meetings put them under additional time pressure and a further third (35%) kept them from doing other impending work. Conference calls are a great example of a better way to cut corners, without impacting business output."

When asked why they preferred conference calls to face-to-face meetings, three in ten (31%) said they were shorter and snappier than meetings held out of the office, with over a quarter (28%) of UK businesspeople claiming they were happy to avoid niggley niceties they experienced during face-to-face meetings. Those polled also added productivity as another reason why they liked conference calls, with three in ten (28%) saying they allowed them to save time and get on with other more important tasks.

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