What's the real price of meetings? How to Focus on Productivity?
Meetings are an integral part of any business, but they can also be costly in terms of both time and productivity. Research shows that the average 30-minute meeting with just three employees can cost between $700 to $1600. That's a significant amount of money that could be better utilized elsewhere in the organization. In fact, Inc.com reports that over $37 billion is spent on unproductive meetings every year in the USA alone. With more than 25 million meetings taking place daily, accounting for about 15% of an organization's collective time, it's crucial to consider the real impact of meetings on productivity.
It's not just the time spent in the meeting itself that incurs costs. The mere act of switching from one task to attend a meeting and then switching back can have a considerable impact on productivity. It often takes each attendee at least 30 minutes to regain focus after a meeting, resulting in a significant loss of productive time. Additionally, meetings can disrupt the flow of work, causing individuals to postpone or defer important tasks that require extended periods of uninterrupted concentration.
Quantifying the true cost of a meeting, which includes the ripple effect on productivity, is a challenging task. Each attendee may have a different impact, and it varies from meeting to meeting. However, there are methods to assess the focus time taken away by a meeting. One approach is to identify the consecutive hours of free time, typically 2 hours, before and after the meeting. The difference gives an indication of the Focus Time cost for an individual. Calculating it for the meeting involves summing up the costs for each attendee.
Calculating the all-in cost of a meeting, including the blast radius of interrupted productive time, is tricky. But there are ways to mitigate the impact:
1. Schedule meetings back-to-back or as close as possible to reduce switching costs.
2. Consider how each meeting impacts attendees' focus time and use tools like Simple Office to find the least disruptive time for everyone and make repetitive weekly so you don't waste time on scheduling it every week.
3. Teach employees to treat meetings as a scarce resource, using their time wisely and avoiding unnecessary meetings.
By understanding the true cost of meetings and adjusting our habits, we can boost productivity, save time, and ultimately improve our bottom line. Let's make meetings work for us, not against us.