Two years of your life in meetings – why it’s time to address meeting madness

Building more efficient meetings

I’m sure we’ve all been in meetings where the agenda hasn’t been followed, someone can’t find a document that is needed and our collective thoughts have wondered elsewhere.

Meetings are an essential part of business life, but many are inefficient, lack focus and could be much shorter. That’s some of the key findings from research that we have just undertaken, looking at how long office workers spend attending, and preparing for meetings.

The results are astonishing. The average worker attends 3.7 meetings every week, spending one hour nine minutes preparing for each meeting and one hour 22 minutes actually attending it. In any given working week, this means that office workers are spending more than a day preparing for, and attending meetings.

Across a 40 year career, this equates to a total of 17,470 hours – two entire years of someone’s life or around 10 years of work time. There is a clearly a disconnect here, as our CEO Alister Esam notes:

Whether it is a large corporate or an SME, too much valuable resource is being wasted in inefficient meetings, which could be better spent elsewhere. Changing this will entail a collective focus on the approach to meetings across the business world, but smaller steps can be taken such as using the appropriate digital tools for meetings instead of traditional paper-based approaches.

That is why we recently launched MeetingSquared, a new app for anyone who organises or attends meetings. Accessed via Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Office 365, it comes with a host of features that will make the entire meeting process easier for the 1.2 billion Office users around the world, solving problems at all three stages of a meeting – before, during and after.

BoardPacks is another eShare platform helping businesses to address inefficient meetings, and it is clear that such tools are more in need than ever. One in five respondents in our research still attend meetings with agendas and supporting materials printed out on paper, and there is a worrying lack of diligence when the meeting is finished. 11% of research respondents admitted that after most meetings they just throw away the agenda and printed materials, which comes with all manner of security implications.

The research also found that 40% of office workers feel that at least half of the meetings they attend are unnecessary, while 30% believe that most meetings they attend are inefficient and could be much shorter. Alister Esam believes that it is high time meetings were brought more fully into the digital age:

Anyone attending a meeting must have the relevant emails, documents and agenda available on their device, and be able to annotate and share those with ease. Furthermore, actions should be agreed and recorded so you don’t have to rely on an attendee’s faulty memory to refer to what was discussed. Other areas of business have been brought up-to-date in terms of attitudes and technology, and it is high time that meetings did the same.


If you’d like to hear more about our research, or are interested in learning more about MeetingSquared, do get in touch with us.

posted on & filed under Productivity.