Do You Have Meeting Fatigue?

I am primarily a teleworker, and attend online meetings frequently. I don't always like or enjoy them, especially when we go of topic. I sometimes wonder if all these meetings are worth my time. When I'm not in meetings, I work alone and can be very productive, so meetings can often be a distraction and interrupt my productive work. How do you think about meetings?

West UC recently surveyed more than 250 full-time workers on meeting habits, uncovering some interesting statistics along the way. It reported that while most respondents don't believe they have too many meetings, they do admit that they aren't always engaged and actively participating in the meetings they do have. Let's take a closer look at the survey results.

Are Meetings Worth the Time?

Meetings can be a waste of time and resources. They can be disruptive when you need to concentrate. West discovered that most employees are not typically drowning in meetings, with the majority of employees surveyed attending just one meeting per day. The average is 69% of employees attend five or fewer meetings per week, while the remaining 31% attend six or more meetings.

There is a difference when you survey managers, however; 50% of managers believe meetings are critical, while only 36% of specialists think this is true. When all respondents were asked if meetings are worth it, 42% said yes and 44% said no -- an even split. Most employees would not believe a world without meetings, with 86% reporting meetings are necessary.

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What's the Best Format?

Have you attended a meeting and never participated? If a meeting is scheduled with the intent to distribute information only, then why not text the potential attendees or record the meeting and distribute the recording? Workers report that they actively contribute to only 36% of the meetings they attend. Over half (55%) of employees attend one to three meetings per week where they don't contribute. Are some organizations deciding to invite everyone?

We've all endured pointless meetings, and there's no greater time waster than sitting in an hour-long session when you are not contributing or engaged. There's a significant cost associated with meetings. Meeting organizers need be judicious with invites and ensure the agenda is well understood in advance. Inviting many attendees may make the organizer feel important, but meeting resentment can grow about future meetings.

Sporadic meeting-goers (those who have five or fewer meetings per week) report that they actively participate 43% of the time in all of their meetings, compared to just 21% of frequent meeting-goers (those who have more than six meetings in a week). Therefore, only attend meetings where your presence will add value to the conversation. Ensure that the goals will be achieved before attending.

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Let's Meet the Teleworker

More of us telework, either part- or full-time. Remote workers are not immune to attending meetings. Hybrid meetings with both onsite and remote attendees are more common than ever. West discovered that where you are (in the room, on the line, or on the screen) can have an impact on your overall meeting experience.

Forty-three percent of employees surveyed say they're an active and engaged participant when connected to a meeting where everyone else is in the same room. At the same time, 57% feel forgotten about when meeting remotely. Thirty-two percent become passive listeners. Why are they wasting time if they are not participating?

It may be that managers who lead the meetings (48%) feel they are an active participant in these situations, versus 37% of specialists. Sixty percent of employees feel they actively involve remote participants when in a room together, while 30% of the room attendees admit to being surprised when remote participants speak up, having forgotten that remote attendees are there in the meeting.

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Further reading that may be of interest includes: "Collaboration Is a Behavior, Not a Technology," "Where Are We with Team Collaboration?," "Making Collaboration Work," and "How Good Meetings Go Bad."