What are meetings costing development teams?

On August 15, 2014

appsMeetings are seen as an integral tool for coming up with fresh new ideas and collaborating on solving company-wide problems. While it may seem like a good idea to keep all your colleagues up to date on the latest things that are going on, some meetings may not be as productive as people make them seem. If left unchecked, unnecessary meetings could cost $37 billion a year, notes Atlassian. Here are some ways meetings in person may secretly be costing you more resources than you think:

Time Is Spent for the Meeting Before, During and After

More time is spent on unproductive meetings than actually getting real work done, according to Fuse. When added up, at least 15 percent of your employees’ time is used for meetings. Unfortunately, the amount of time spent this way is rising every year. Development teams can spend anywhere from 35 to 50 percent simply for meeting with other people. What’s worse is that time is spent not just during the meeting, but before they even happen. Most employees could use up to four hours of their work week just to prepare for their regular meetings. As many as 45 percent of employees felt overwhelmed because they were attending so many meetings in a short period of time, according to Atlassian. This can lead to additional stress that could be avoided if companies started requiring employees to attend only the most important meetings. That’s why some companies opt for cost effective meetings via platforms like Blue Jeans Network.

Brainstorming May Not Actually Rain Down Ideas

A regular business meeting for the sake of having a meeting might as well be replaced with a casual conversation at the water cooler. While brainstorming has become a regularized part of some business meetings, it can actually prevent you and your staff from coming up with great ideas. Being forced to come up with creative solutions on the spot can be intimidating for your employees, according to Market Wired. Pushing your employees to think of ideas in a free-wheeling way can cause people to lose their course and, ultimately, lead to nowhere. If no proper documentation is being kept, your possibly good ideas are lost in the archives of a browser or phone.

Lack of Engagement During the Meeting

At least 92 percent of employees are guilty of multitasking during a meeting, according to Fuse. At least 73 percent of people admit to doing tasks that are unrelated to work or the meeting they are in, states Atlassian. Many employees find it hard to concentrate on the topic at hand. At least 91 percent daydream, while 39 percent even fall asleep. Worst of all, most employees say that, if possible, they would skip at least 96 percent of their meetings due to any number of reasons. It could be due to sickness, a work schedule so packed that meeting times overlap or simply a lack of caring.

This lack of engagement could be due to a number of factors. Many meetings tend to go on longer than they should, taking anywhere from one to three hours. A person’s average attention span is anywhere from 20 to 37 minutes, according to the Build Network. Therefore, your meeting should only take a maximum of 30 minutes, with some leeway for additional questions and comments.

How Video Conferencing May Work Better

Video conferences may prove to be a beneficial alternative to traditional in-person meetings. About 57 percent of employees multitask while they are in a phone meeting, notes Fuse. In contrast, only four percent say they would do other tasks during a video conference. This is because 80 percent of the information we process comes from seeing somebody else’s body language. Video conferences allow you the benefits of visual communication without strictly requiring people to physically gather in one place.

Besides enhancing your employees’ focus, video conferences also save you and your employees the hassle of commuting. You will also save money on food and drinks, and you will free up office spaces for more productive tasks. As long as you have your device, you can be assured that you won’t miss a meeting.

Meetings can be useful, but only if they are utilized properly. The first step in preventing unproductive meetings is identifying and admitting that these problems exist in the first place. Many of these problems can be resolved by setting clear expectations for each meeting. It is good not to confine yourself to the traditional structure of meetings, too. Try alternatives, or better yet, see if you can do without a meeting at all. If meetings are held only for the most important topics, and involve only the most crucial key people who can actually do something about the problem at hand, then you will get more value for your company’s time and money.