Team meeting

The cost of overrun meetings on the economy adds up to a staggering £582 million a week, according to a new study.

In a poll of 1,000 office workers, a large majority (95%) admitted they have meeting that regularly over run, and more than half (53%) agree that some meeting they attend could be conducted more efficiently.

More than two thirds of those questioned said they regularly hold meetings at least five times a week, and 70% of respondents reveal these meetings often over run by up to half an hour, according to the study by technology specialists, Altodigital.

The figures were calculated against the average annual wage and multiplied by the current working population to work out its effect on the economy.

Alistair Millar, group marketing manager at Altodigital said: “Unproductive meetings are an element of business that affects every sector and industry, but is something that can be easily avoided.

“Using office technology such as video conferencing, conference calls and interactive smartboards, as well as using some of these top productivity tips, could increase the speed and efficiency of meetings, not to mention cut down on extended periods of travel time.”

The study also revealed that the majority of UK meetings are anything but efficient, with 28% of respondents regularly attending ‘unnecessary’ meetings and almost half (43%) saying that they have been to a meeting and actually not contributed anything at all.

Nearly a tenth of people instigate a meeting with a co-worker to avoid doing other work and 15% even said they have attended a meeting hungover. A quarter of respondents even admit to spending a third of their meeting time on general chit chat and enjoying refreshments.

Mr Millar added: “Although often unproductive, meetings are necessary to build strong relationships and keep up to date with particular projects, and we hope that our research will help people to put productive measures into place and discover how we can help the UK become more efficient and spend time doing the work that will make money - rather than holding meetings about it.”

The travel time to meetings is also a major factor, as more than a third of UK employees questioned (34%) said they travel between one and six hours to attend a meeting and 66% of respondents driving to meetings instead of taking the train, which would enable them to work whilst they travel.

Though unproductive meetings are considered to be a drain on UK businesses, it isn’t something that is regularly tackled, with nearly a quarter of people (23%) admitting that they don’t use technology in meetings at all, only 38% use conference calls facilities and 35% video conferences.

However, the opportunities advancements in technology can offer were recognised, with more than a third (35%) of respondents agreeing making more use of available technology would increase efficiency of their meetings.

Top tips for helping to maximise meetings

  • Holding meetings at a desk instead of meeting rooms (29%)
  • Setting a timer to stick to pre-agreed meeting times (24%)
  • Implementing refreshment-free meetings (23%)
  • Taking a leaf out of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and holding meetings standing rather than sitting (18%)