UK workers waste nearly 13 days a year in 'unproductive' meetings, poll claims

More than 60 per cent of those polled admitted they make excuses in order to avoid meetings

Astrid Hall
Tuesday 18 September 2018 19:39 BST
Pollmakers discovered most staff believe 40 minutes is the ‘optimum’ length for an effective meeting
Pollmakers discovered most staff believe 40 minutes is the ‘optimum’ length for an effective meeting

The average employee wastes nearly 13 working days every year – in ‘unproductive’ meetings, it has emerged.

A European survey of 2,000 employees in the UK, France and Germany found the typical staff member spends a total of 187 hours – or the equivalent of 23 days a year – in meetings.

The poll claims 56 per cent of those meetings are generally "unproductive" – and 66 per cent of those polled even admitted they make excuses in order to avoid meetings.

The survey by business travel hotel brand Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resorts also found one in 10 will pretend they got the time or date wrong, and one in 20 even admitted to calling in sick to get out of a meeting entirely.

Mike Greenup, vice president brand management, said: “Meetings are essential for collaboration and reaching business goals, but ensuring they are effective isn’t always simple.''

The poll revealed most staff think 40 minutes is the "optimum" length for an effective meeting.

Interestingly, the poll found that German employees are the most likely to make excuses to skip meetings, with nearly three quarters confessing to doing so.

By comparison, two-thirds of French employees and just more than half of UK professionals do the same.

One reason employees excuse themselves from meetings may be due to the amount of meetings viewed as ineffective.

More than one in three admit to switching off during meetings lasting too long, deeming more than half of those they attend as "unproductive".

Shockingly, nearly a quarter have witnessed someone else falling asleep, and a similar number have sent personal messages during a professional gathering.

It also emerged employees are more likely to enjoy a meeting if it is held offsite and involves free food and drink.

Over a third would get more enjoyment from a meeting with a relaxed atmosphere, and nearly two thirds would prefer for someone else to organise and run the meeting.

Nearly two-thirds agreed mornings are generally better for meetings, with meetings between 9:30am and 11:30am revealed as the prime time for professional gatherings.

The survey showed that meeting pet peeves were also universal. Respondents said the most frustrating things about meetings, were; people talking over each other, meeting rooms that are too hot or cold and people who arrive late.

More than a quarter get irritated by technological issues, such as wifi or conference call connections not working.

People using "office jargon" or buzzwords was also regarded as a top meeting annoyance, with "Asap", "win-win" and "touch base" regarded as the most overused phrases.

Mr Greenup added: “We know that people are looking for spaces that are more flexible, on-demand and collaborative, and the new designs we’re rolling out at flagship Crowne Plaza properties in 2019 will deliver exactly that.

“We have invested in Crowne Plaza to make it the first choice for modern business travellers and to help people have the most effective meetings possible.”

"We’ve created communal workspaces where guests can switch effortlessly between work and socialising and also have a dedicated onsite Meetings Directors at each property to help co-ordinate and manage meetings, taking the pain out of that process.”

15 most annoying things about meetings:

1. When people talk over each other

2. When the room is too cold/too hot

3. People who arrive late

4. People who talk too much

5. People making phone calls

6. People on their phones sending emails/messages

7. Technology issues

8. People who take the meeting off-track or change the subject

9. Issues with conference calling

10. Projector or presentation not working

11. When there are not enough chairs

12. When the room is double booked

13. People using "office jargon" or buzzwords

14. The pair that won't stop laughing

15. People who fidge or tap

10 most overused office jargon words and phrases:

1. Asap

2. Win-win situation

3. Touch base

4. No brainer

5. Back to the drawing board

6. Get the ball rolling

7. Hit the ground running

8. Thought shower

9. Benchmark

10. Moving the goalposts

South West News Service

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