(From the editor: This article was originally published on ViewSonic Library.)

Productive meetings are a great thing. Sadly, many things can derail meeting productivity. The result? We end up wasting time in meetings. There are many culprits: Lack of preparation. Poorly defined objectives. Latecomers and no-shows.

Video conferencing helps make meetings more productive. When we see ourselves on-screen, our behavior improves considerably. Being aware on one’s demeanor translates into much more productive meetings. Less time is wasted when people are aware of any distractions they create.

Yet even with videoconferencing, meeting time is wasted due to AV setup. Connecting to a display. Launching a video call. Switching presenters.

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business man wasting time
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Time wasted in meetings accounts for 15% of an hour-long meeting*. That’s 9 minutes of precious time lost just setting up. The time-suck from tech issues makes a big impact. Time is wasted. Productivity is lost. 

sappy research august 2017
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How Big is the Problem of Wasted Time?

Lost meeting productivity is a big deal. Problems arise when situations conspire to sap meeting time and productivity. Because we spend so much time in meetings, even a relatively small percentage of wasted time quickly adds up.

A recent group of studies show there are between 36 and 56 million meetings per day. Ineffective meetings cost the US economy between $70 to $283 billion.

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Time is zero sum. Every minute spent in a meeting is time not getting something else done. That’s why wasting time in meetings is such a big deal. Focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task is referred to as deep work. It’s essential to creativity and efficiency. Wasting time in meetings hinders a person’s ability to concentrate on their own tasks.

When people don’t have time to focus on their work, productivity suffers greatly. When this happens too often, employees suffer from a loss of work-life balance and increased burnout. This results in less efficiency, less creativity and missed work days.

When employees consistently find themselves wasting time in meetings, job satisfaction drops. This holds true regardless of personality, pay and other key factors. Meetings with frequent time-wasting behaviors correlate with lower market share, less innovation and reduced employment stability.

Meeting Time Wasters

Many factors contribute to time wasting, productivity sapping, and sleep inducing meetings. One proven way to reduce time wasted in meetings is to use video conferencing. The business benefits of video conferencing include improved communication and fewer distractions. The most common meeting time wasters include:
  • Poor preparation by meeting host
  • Inviting too many/wrong people
  • Latecomers and no-shows
  • Lack of clear, action-oriented agenda
  • Straying off topic/letting people talk too much
  • Not diverting longer discussion into follow up meetings

Tech Time Wasters

We like to think our tech isn’t a waste of time. Clearly, meeting room tech brings a host of benefits. Yet, content sharing technology quickly becomes a burden. Consider evidence from a recent study, which found that:

  • Meeting room tech problems consumed 10% of IT managers’ time
  • IT managers address 447.2 meeting room tech incidents a year
  • On average, an incident eats up 23.1 minutes of an IT manager’s time
  • In a 12-month span, 69% of presentation teams were let down by meeting room tech
  • More than 1 in 5 extended meetings are due to meeting room equipment failure

Frustration of Time Wasted in Meetings

Wasted time at the start of a meeting is particularly problematic. The time it takes to get a meeting up and running is among the most valuable few minutes in the room. Just like the common saying about breakfast, these minutes set the tone for the rest of the meeting.

Imagine your team is doing all the right things to set the stage for running an effective meeting. Great prep. Action-oriented objectives. All the right people are in the room. Then, imagine the meeting host struggles to get the remote office connected or to display their presentation onscreen. Minutes tick by. Minds wander. Attention drifts. Previously focused energy dissipates as attendees shift off topic.

In another scenario, your video call connects with ease. But your in-room participants need to pass and connect a cable to take turns sharing content from their laptops. Or your wireless content sharing app isn’t working. Tick-Tock. You guessed it – more wasted minutes and wandering minds.

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On average, 15% of a meeting is time wasted. Setting up for a video conference is a big contributor. Other frustrating, time-consuming tasks include:

  • Connecting the initial presenter’s laptop to the in-room display
  • Connecting subsequent presenter laptops to the display
  • Taking turns sharing content to the big screen
  • Updating presenter content then resending to participants
  • Slowdowns for participants to take photos of onscreen meeting notes

Cost of Time Wasted Meetings

Let’s take a look at how the cost of 15% of time wasted in meetings adds up. The average US salary level for a senior manager is $150,000. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume all meetings run for one hour, which costs $72.12.

Applying the 15% stat from above, wasting time in meetings costs $10.82 for each meeting this manager attends. Let’s assume this exec is in a collaborative industry and attends the reported 17 meetings per week. That’s $183.94 down the drain due to lost meeting productivity, per week for this one person!

Monthly, we’re up to a $735.58 lost to unproductive meeting set up time – for this one senior manager. The annual loss (assuming 260 work days/year) is $9,562.50. Of course, it couldn’t be a meeting with just one exec. Using the same steps from above, we can calculate the cost of wasting time in meetings due to video conference setup and presenter connectivity for additional roles in the company:

time wasted spreadsheet meetings
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To complete the exercise, let’s find out how big the impact becomes when we look at the profile for an imaginary enterprise of 1,000 employees.

spreadsheet time wasted meetings
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Time wasted setting up for meetings has a cost. There are also less tangible, but impactful, consequences. The sunk cost of what these professionals could have been doing during wasted time. And the long-term blow to productivity from dissatisfaction with poorly run meetings.

Use the inefficiency calculator down below to estimate how much time your company is wasting in meetings! 

Boost Meeting Productivity with Next Generation Meeting Spaces

The right meeting room design—and the right collaboration tools—can make all the difference.

Register for our upcoming webinar to see how you can utilize meeting room design and content-sharing solutions to make your company’s meetings more productive, more efficient, more effective, and more secure.

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Inefficiency Calculator

Calculate below how much money your company is losing due to wasted time in meetings:

*Estimated based on industry data and customer feedback
**The calculator provided herein is for information purposes only and the accuracy is not guaranteed. Any default figures shown are hypothetical and for ease of reference. Please consult a professional before relying on any results. Parmetech nd its affiliates are not responsible for any decisions or actions taken in reliance upon or as a result of the data provided by the tool and the usage thereof. Parmetech disclaims any and all liability as a result of any human or mechanical errors/omissions.
Keith, Elise. 12.4.15. 55 Million: A Fresh Look at the Number, Effectiveness, and Cost of Meetings in the U.S. Lucid Meetings Blog. Accessed 7.11.18 at: https://blog.lucidmeetings.com/blog/fresh-look-number-effectiveness-cost-meetings-in-us
Perlow, Leslie, et.al. July-Aug 2017. Stop the Meeting Madness. Harvard Business Review. Accessed 7.11.18 at: https://hbr.org/2017/07/stop-the-meeting-madness
Rogelberg, Steven, et al. 3.26.10. Employee satisfaction with meetings: A contemporary facet of job satisfaction. Accessed 7.11.18 at:  https. //onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hrm.20339
Kauffeld, Simone and Lehmann-Willenbrock, Nale. April 2012. Meetings Matter: Effects of Team Meetings on Team and Organizational Success. Accessed 7.11.18 at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258187597_Meetings_Matter_Effects_of_Team_Meetings_on_Team_and_Organizational_Success
The Meeting Room Marathon – A Waste of Corporate Time. July 2010. Accessed 7.11.18 at: http://docs.media.bitpipe.com/io_10x/io_102267/item_465972/whitepaper_66611393663.pdf