Meetings make staff members moan

A survey suggests businesses spend £255m a day on internal meetings. Time to cut back?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 18 Oct 2011
With the economy staring into the steaming abyss of double-dip recession, businesses are returning to the stage where any opportunity to save money perks them up no end. Cue figures released today by ‘private social network for enterprise and organisations’ NationalField (not sure what that means, but it’s used by the White House, no less), which suggests that UK businesses waste £255m a day on internal meetings and emails. And that’s not just on multipacks of chocolate Hobnobs: apparently, workers see them as a colossal waste of time.

Considering the frequency with which workers moan about mind-numbing meetings, none of this comes as much of a surprise, but nevertheless: according to the figures, almost a quarter of employees spend up to three hours a day in internal meetings or sending emails to colleagues. The average number of internal emails they receive is 32 – although nearly one in five say they get up to 50 a day, which works out as one email every eight-and-a-half minutes. Eeek.

Of course, this is all a bit questionable. Ignoring the fact that NationalField clearly has something of a vested interest in improving companies’ communications, it’s also making the assumption that meetings are never productive – which, of course, is occasionally true. But meetings can also be very fruitful, if they’re run properly. Ditto internal emails.

That’s not to say that this isn’t an issue at all: after all, when BlackBerry had its three-day outage last week, complaints that people had to start concentrating in meetings instead of sending emails/looking at Facebook were almost as frequent on Twitter as descriptions of peoples’ lunches. But there are ways of dealing with this – keeping meetings to an absolute minimum, for example, or setting a limit for internal emails. Alternatively, you could always splash out on a ‘private social network for enterprise and organisations’. But that’s not very recession friendly now, is it…?

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