Running Your Business

Too Many Meetings? Use These Tips to Preserve Workplace Productivity


  • Over half of business leaders believe meetings are too frequent, poorly run and happen at inopportune times

  • Business communication technology makes it possible for people to connect as a team, without impacting productivity

  • Oftentimes, one-on-one meetings are more effective for overcoming obstacles and relaying important information

Posted by June 21, 2019

Does your workplace have an obsession with meeting for every little thing? Well, you’re not alone. Despite all the modern communication channels now at our disposal, employees continue to complain about having too many meetings on their calendars.

Research published by the MIT Sloan Management Review reveals that, on average, employees spend six hours a week in meetings—and that doesn’t account for impromptu huddles. That time nearly quadruples for managers, clocking in somewhere around 23 hours.

The research also says that the larger your organization, the more gatherings you’re likely to schedule. If you feel like you and your employees spend too much time in too many meetings, here are some ways you can keep these sessions in check.

The Pros and Cons of Workplace Meetings

On the one hand, meetings can be highly effective if participants have a clear idea of their purpose and also enjoy the social aspects of working with peers to solve problems. On the other, too many meetings can lead to lower levels of employee productivity and general frustration, which can impact job satisfaction. How can organizations strike a balance between work and working together?

Start by asking employees if they feel overwhelmed with meetings. If the answer is yes, evaluate if there’s anything you can do to free up their schedule. Can they sit out some meetings? Can any of these gatherings be canceled entirely?

Some employees will, no matter what, always hate meetings. But why? A group of researchers from the Harvard Business School and Boston University, after studying more than 1,000 leaders, found that meetings are generally despised for the same three reasons: there are too many of them, they’re poorly timed, and they’re badly managed.

How to Get Meetings Under Control

Besides eliminating frivolous ones, you can also pare meetings down to 30 minutes or less. By sharing agendas in advance and letting employees skip meetings that don’t pertain to them, you can also free up bandwidth. In most cases, a one-on-one meeting may be more beneficial than trying to stuff a group of employees into one room, where only a couple of people talk anyway.

You may want to make an exception for weekly or monthly staff meetings, though, especially when important company updates, client information or revenue reports are discussed. These kinds of meetings work best when handled using a web meeting service, which allows employees the option to listen in while they continue working. Additionally, consider recording these meetings for people to watch at their leisure.

Making the Most of Manager Meetings

For managers, meetings are unavoidable. Meeting with larger groups of people is the very nature of their job, from employees to clients, or sometimes a combination of both. Management may also be required from time to time to speak with the executive team or answer to the board of directors. But while there will probably always be more meetings on a manager’s plate, they can also take advantage of digital business technology to reduce the time it takes to conduct these meetings and make remote ones more convenient.

Managers should always have—and stick to—a precise meeting agenda. And once they report what they need to, consider cutting the meeting short so people can get back to work. If there are multiple managers in one department, only send one or two to big meetings, and allow the rest to catch up from a later email briefing. During the meeting itself, the representing managers can use an internal work messenger to relay questions or concerns as they come up.

When you’re dealing with too many meetings, it’s critical that each one has a purpose that’s identified beforehand. And if people can resolve matters over the phone, via a text message or through a remote meeting, then it’s probably unnecessary to hold an in-person meeting. Identifying what constitutes a meeting and what doesn’t can help your employees be more productive and more content at work.

Looking for more ways to increase your workplace productivity? Check out these expert tips from the Benefits Bridge.

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