‘Unnecessary’ work meetings waste productivity and money, survey finds

To no surprise for many employees, a new survey found that organizations could save thousands of dollars and much time if they cut back on unnecessary work meetings. 

Otter surveyed more than 600 workers during the summer of 2022. Respondents represented different sectors of the workforce including professional services, health and human services, and information technology. Respondents had a mix of in-office, fully remote, or hybrid jobs. 

Findings showed that on average, employees spend nearly 18 hours in meetings per week and the frequency of those meetings increased with managerial jobs. 

However, the report found that nearly 12 hours of meetings per week were critical to attend while about 5.7 hours of meeting time were not necessary as long as employees were kept in the loop. 

RELATED: Fewer people request US unemployment benefits amid solid hiring, high inflation

Also, nearly half of respondents (46%) agreed that they have too many unnecessary meetings on their calendars. More than half of respondents (53%) said they feel the need to attend a meeting if invited regardless of if their attendance is critical. 

Other findings included that on average, companies spend about $80,000 per employee per year and could save $25,000 if they cut back on unnecessary meeting attendance. 

Also, professionals spend more than one-third of their working hours in meetings, and those unnecessary meetings could lead to employees feeling "annoyed" and "frustrated."

Otter also believes reducing unnecessary meetings will reduce the strain on employees and increase productivity. Companies of 100 people could save $2.5 million a year while companies of 5,000 employees could save more than $100 million a year by cutting unnecessary meetings. 

Otter encourages companies to shift the organizational culture such as providing formal guidance and permission when it comes to meetings. Notes before the meeting should be provided to let employees feel better about skipping them. Also, companies should invite employees to meetings, or parts of meetings, that are only relevant to them. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.