After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, peoples’ attitudes toward meetings changed. With increased remote work, many companies believed they needed more meetings—in fact, 70% of employees noticed an increase in meetings since then. Furthermore, according to our own product usage data at GoTo, online meetings aren’t only happening more often—they’re getting bigger, with more participants than before.
This is not a new trend. Research suggests that we’re getting a bit too chatty. In fact, meetings have slowly crept up over the past 50 years or so.
Meetings can be an important way to keep a remote team on the same page. Or they can be vital ways to build a team culture when you’re at the office. But how do you know when they’re doing more damage than good?
Are meetings too prevalent in your day-to-day?
According to Entrepreneur, if you spend 20% of your time in meetings, then you run the risk of getting on your employee’s nerves. An easy rule of thumb here: if a full one-fifth of your usual business time (and the business time of those around you) is taken up in meetings, that means one entire day of your week is spent in meetings! It’s not an ideal situation.
But the truth is, there’s no rule of thumb. Some people in positions of leadership may have to spend more time in meetings simply due to the nature of their position. Some people who have simpler tasks that don’t require feedback may have to spend virtually no time in meetings.
The fastest way to check on your meeting frequency is to get a sense of your own workers. Ask them if they find any meetings they have to attend too burdensome or cumbersome. Or maybe there are too many people involved in meetings that don’t have to be there, because they don’t feel they have anything valuable to contribute.
It’s a guessing game, but when you consider just how much time and resources are spent on holding meetings, it’s important to guess as accurately as possible.
How to cut back
Put your meetings into dollar terms
Time is money, right? If so, it should be theoretically possible to translate your meetings to dollar terms.
If this is hard to estimate, then try to make it concrete by using a calculator. The Harvard Business Review features a cost-of-meetings calculator to help put things into dollar terms. The meeting includes the duration of the meeting, the total number of attendees, and the average income of the attendees.
Cut your meetings first, then add on as appropriate
If you’d rather take the Gordian Knot approach and cut meetings across the board, it may help you discover where the waste is. Try slashing meetings by, say, 10%, allowing your teams to determine which meetings are the most essential and deserve to stay.
You can also give it a trial period! If at the end of the trial period, there’s no noticeable impact on productivity, then you know that you did the right thing—and it might be possible to cut even more meetings. But if you noticed things went poorly, you can always add the most essential meetings back into the schedule without completely ramping them back up.
Block off time when no meetings are allowed
Meetings will always be necessary—that’s just a fact of life in business. But Mattan Griffel of The Muse says he achieves some success by blocking off times for meetings, where only one day a week is a viable option.
You can implement this with your own team by instituting a new policy. Maybe Mondays—one of the least popular days for meetings—are better spent getting things done and warming up for the week ahead. Or, maybe you pick Fridays—a solid choice for leaving workers time to wrap-up projects before the weekend. That will be up to you.
Ultimately, the amount of meetings you have should reflect your company culture and your dedication to productivity. Feel free to experiment with it! Find out what works, what doesn’t—and disregard anything that isn’t helping your company move forward.