Office workers are spending more than 10 hours a week on meetings, with half of them being deemed unnecessary

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According to new research from meeting governance technology firm eShare, the average office worker is spending 10 hours and 42 minutes a week preparing for and attending roughly 4.4 meetings and 2.6 of those meetings are deemed unnecessary.

Based on ONS average earnings data, the annual staff costs for unnecessary meetings per business is £35,395.36 and with 5.4 million businesses in the UK these futile meetings are costing more than £191bn.

“Even as an approximate figure, £191bn is an astonishing amount to be wasted in staff costs, time and resource that could clearly be much better spent elsewhere,” said Alister Esam, CEO, eShare. “The template for smarter meetings must start at the top – board level meetings must be efficient, essential and better managed, so that meetings elsewhere can follow that lead.”

UK employees have had enough, with 70% pf office workers stating there are too many meetings in a working week and 24% saying that the same results can be achieved efficiently over email. The process for preparing and holding meetings has also been deemed archaic as 81% say meetings need a 21st-century makeover, with 83% saying the meeting process has not changed since they first entered the workplace.

It is this lack of modernisation that has resulted in such meeting inefficiency, according to eShare CEO, Alister Esam “We’ve all been in meetings that took scores of emails to confirm, that have a paper agenda, where people can’t recall exactly what the previous actions were and with meeting materials that have been amended at the last minute – these problems could all be addressed by a more digital approach. It’s a waste of money and resource and is hugely frustrating for all concerned. Addressing such inefficiencies could be the biggest single boost to productivity in UK business, whilst also improving areas such as governance and transparency, especially at board level.”

The multitude of meetings and inefficiency is eating into staff productivity as more than three-quarters (79%) of respondents stated they could get much more work done with fewer inefficient meetings, and 45% believe that meetings prevent them from actually getting on with their job. The lack of digitisation around business meetings was highlighted by 52% saying they still receive a printed agenda and materials for most meetings, despite the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets. 59% say that after most meetings they just throw away the agenda and printed materials.

“Whether it’s board meetings in a major corporation, SME all-company meetings or departmental catch-ups, meetings are an essential element of business,” said Alister Esam. “Yet most of us would agree that many meetings are inefficient and ineffective and can be managed far better than they are currently. Throwing meeting materials away for example, is potentially a major security concern, and all aspects of meetings need to be dragged into the 21st century. The benefits of doing so will be felt in boardrooms all over the UK.”