Pointless meetings set to cost UK economy £45 billion in 2019

22 January 2019 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read

As the world’s largest economies encounter an enduring drag on productivity numbers, a new report has found that work meetings are draining billions pounds from revenues every year. According to the study, more than 2 million years of productivity are wasted annually thanks to poorly organised or unimportant meetings being inflicted on employees.

When you are sat in a slow-moving, seemingly endless office meeting, it can sometimes feel like a million years. Now, however, it turns out that figurative feeling might be in tune with a very literal implication for businesses across the world, as a new study has found that more than 2.8 million years of productivity are lost annually to ‘pointless’ or poorly organised meetings.

Online scheduling platform Doodle hosts over 30 million users every month, and believes this gives the company an unparalleled understanding of the challenges and solutions that commonly occur in scheduling meetings. Following the interview of more than 6,500 professionals across the UK, Germany, the USA and Switzerland, the company also examined 19 million meetings arranged through its platform in 2018, to reach its surprising conclusion.

According to the Doodle State of Meetings Report 2019, this costs four of the world’s wealthiest nations around £422 billion every year. While none of the countries in question will be particularly pleased with this, the report claims the chief offender is the US. There, companies waste more than £310 billion in productivity thanks to the 1.89 million years US staff spend in dead-end meetings. Spending similar amounts of time in work – albeit with smaller populations, minimising the numbers somewhat – the UK and Germany similarly see professionals stranded for two hours a week in such meetings.

Cumulatively, bosses are literally wasting millions of years of productivity via poorly organised meetings

These hours add up adding up to an average of 13 days over the course of a year, while the average professional has three meetings each week. Proportionally – professionals feel that two thirds of the meetings they attend are unnecessary, suggesting that the problem could be easily remedied, with major financial benefits. If UK professionals alone were subjected to fewer of these meetings, the economy could benefit to the tune of £45 billion. This is no small amount, while the UK economy remains in the grip of an on-going productivity shortfall.

Delving deeper into the specific personal impact, meanwhile, more than one quarter of respondents said that poorly organised meetings impacted their client relationships. A further 43% felt such gatherings tended to create confusion in the workplace – ironically, since many are likely called to distribute policy and clarify issues surrounding it – as well as 44% who suggested pointless meetings impact their ability to actually do their work. Finally, a third of professionals said they found themselves unable to contribute to the majority of meetings they were in, making their presence aimless, and showing over-invitation is a major waste of time at work.

Gabriele Ottino, CEO of Doodle, commented on the study, “Everyone knows the pains of boring, pointless meetings. They happen every day, but the cumulative effect is frankly shocking! If you aren’t looking to improve the efficiency of meetings at your organisation, you’re wasting an enormous amount of money and time. Many organisations will suffer due to a casual approach to scheduling and running meetings, and in particular the 25% of professionals who have an average of five or more meetings per week.

Related: Just 15% of employees are engaged. The rest lose $7 trillion in productivity.