By Craig Daniel, VP Product at join.me, LogMeIn

Ovum research recently found that senior executives waste roughly 139 hours, that’s three working weeks, each year waiting for meetings to start. To put this monetarily, the average cost of late meetings to a medium-sized enterprise is an eye-watering £3.6 million.

Whether it’s the travelling or waiting for latecomers, businesses often fritter away huge amounts of time and money on ineffective meetings.

This is often made worse by non-attendees, who haven’t been able to make the appointment because of other commitments or are simply too far away to make it worth their while travelling. But effective communication and consolidated working patterns have always been a problem for teams in rapidly growing companies.

A new workplace mindset

The issue is that scheduled meetings are less and less able to suit the needs of all participants. Getting around this, employees are turning away from setting dates and times in advance, favouring more agile, ad-hoc meetings.

Demand for ad hoc meetings is being driven by the rise of Generation Y in the workplace. As a growing part of many organisations, they’ve come to expect constant communication and instant connectivity, so waiting around for a meeting is avoided at all costs. Instead they prefer on-the-spot collaboration as a means to save time and money, and be more efficient.

This mode of working couldn’t be better structured as businesses become more and more mobile. It’s no wonder that around a quarter of all external one-on-one meetings are ad hoc given they are also key drivers for business as improved collaboration leads to the sharing of ideas and work practices.

From fast to ‘superfast’

The advent of superfast fibre optic and the spread of 4G, both geographically and socially, have enabled remote workers to communicate like never before. Increased bandwidth across all platforms means it’s now possible to combine several forms of communication – video, audio, messaging, file sharing – into one application and run them simultaneously.

Whether it’s from a laptop, tablet or smartphone, these scalable and secure next generation web conferencing tools enable users to instantly share documents, presentations, and messages in a virtual meeting with up to 250 participants.

Aside from the huge time, money and travel savings, there’s also no longer the constraint of having to arrange meetings far in advance to ensure everyone required can attend. If you know you can instantly take part in a fully interactive meeting from your desk, home or while on the move, it makes it much easier to attend.

An ongoing migration

With the advances made in consumer IT, employees looking to gain the benefits of more agile virtual meetings and avoid the headache of using traditional web conferencing tools have already turned to their own devices. Whilst this situation is recognised by many companies, it inevitably gives rise to staff circumventing more important legacy systems to help do their job more effectively and fit in better with their lifestyle.

But things have evolved a stage further. The convergence of consumerisation and the rise of the cloud has led to the emergence of BYOA (Bring-Your-Own-Apps). As employees bring their own devices to work around legacy systems, the Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) tools they need to use for virtual meetings begin to become a hindrance, prompting a migration to other available tools.

Indeed, BYOA is already spreading like wildfire throughout business. A survey for LogMeIn by Edge Strategies found that around 60% of companies questioned in the UK and Ireland reported that employee-introduced apps were being used in the workplace. Further research discovered that similar organisations each had around 21 BYOAs.

For IT departments, this represents a worrying loss of control but more seriously could bring security and compatibility issues. One way companies are getting around this is to assimilate these apps into their own software portfolio.

[/b]Taking a step back for two steps forward[b]

With such a wide range of choices of what they can now use in the workplace, employees are going to make a beeline towards those technologies that work best for them and make their lives easier. These will be mobile devices and apps that allow them to instantaneously and effectively collaborate with others from wherever they happen to be. This can only be a positive step for any business looking to improve the efficiency of their staff and reduce the escalating costs of holding and attending meetings.

As more employees work from remote locations regularly, companies need solutions that are going make their staff more agile and better connected. This improves communications, productivity and ultimately makes for better business decisions.