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Curse of the pointless meetings that will cost $541bn in 2019

Gabriele Ottino

A new report resulted from interviewing over 6,500 professionals across the UK, Germany, the USA and Switzerland, and examined 19 million meetings arranged through its platform in 2018. Contributor Gabriele Ottino, CEO – Doodle.

Online platform Doodle provides an in-depth look at the current state of meetings in the workplace, incorporating proprietary data and new research conducted with 6,528 professionals in the UK, Germany and the USA.

The report is a comprehensive look at the time taken up by cancelled or unnecessary meetings, inefficient ways of working and preferred methods of meeting and features expert comment from organisational academics and psychologists. 

Key findings include: Poorly organised meetings cost companies a huge amount in time and money every year. Professionals in the UK, Germany and USA spend two hours every week in pointless meetings, adding up to 13 days over the course of a year. The average professional has three meetings each week, with an average duration of one hour per meeting. Proportionally – professionals feel that two thirds of the meetings they attend are unnecessary.

The cost of poorly organised meetings is most keenly felt in Switzerland, where 46 percent of professionals see this as the biggest cost to their organisation, compared to 40 percent in the UK, 38 percent in Germany and 34 percent in the USA. Doodle also calculated the cumulative yearly cost, in time and hours, to companies in the countries surveyed*:

Delving deeper into the specific personal impact, over a quarter (26 percent) stated that poorly organised meetings impacted their client relationships, while others feel they create confusion in the workplace (43 percent), and impact their ability to actually do their work (44 percent).

Supporting this is the finding that a third (33 percent) of professionals find themselves unable to contribute to most of the meetings they attend – suggesting over-invitation is a major waste of time at work. 

Paul Axtell, author of Meetings Matter comments on the implications of poorly organised meetings: “The impacts of poor meetings also affect people’s own behaviour. When they feel a meeting isn’t working for them, they end up bringing other work and multi-tasking rather than owning the conversation.

Employees are also the ones who pay the less-obvious costs associated with poor meetings by not being fully-up-to speed and organised, which can see them take work home, therefore not relaxing and regenerating. In the short term, individuals can push through these issues – but long term they pay a high price through the additional stress.

Gabriele Ottino, CEO of Doodle, comments: “Everyone knows the pains of boring, pointless meetings. They happen every day, but the cumulative effect is frankly shocking! If you aren’t looking to improve the efficiency of meetings at your organisation, you’re wasting an enormous amount of money and time. Many organisations will suffer due to a casual approach to scheduling and running meetings, and in particular the 25 percent of professionals who have an average of five or more meetings per week. 

What’s positive is that within the huge financial implications lie simple issues that can easily be fixed. Things like setting a clear agenda, only inviting relevant people and proper planning can be easily implemented, and if we stick to these principals there’s a clear opportunity to make a huge savings, cut wasted time and reduce irritation to employees – benefiting everyone.”

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