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Survey: The Painful Reality of Meetings

Meetings are a cornerstone of the modern workplace and the foundation of our collaborative ecosystem—where informal brainstorming meets concrete decision-making. There is no question that meetings should help us move the needle on productivity…but is that always the case? 

In a recent BlueJeans Survey of 700 full-time professionals, we identified that 74% of respondents rate their organization’s meeting culture as neutral or bad—with 52% agreeing the meetings glut is cutting into their personal time. By digging into the data a little further, we were able to unpack some of the drivers of negative meeting culture.

The Follow-up Death Spiral
Ultimately, successful meetings are dependent on having the right people in attendance and having a group of engaged meeting participants. The "Painful Reality of Meetings” survey revealed that 70% of managers admit to having schedules that are too packed. These critical stakeholders are often double-or-triple booked, preventing them from attending all the meetings they are asked to join. This calendar stuffing results in what we call the “follow-up death spiral.”  Specifically, when a critical stakeholder cannot make a meeting, then another meeting needs to be scheduled, and so on. This limits the quality of the meetings that do happen, defers decision-making, and results in the never-ending cycle of more meetings

Meeting FOMO
When it comes to meeting engagement, the survey found that 48% of attendees join meetings strictly for the fear of missing out or “Meeting FOMO.” These attendees want to make sure that their attendance is acknowledged just in case they receive a call out or an action item and simply want to be recognized for showing up. This behavior is problematic, because it flies in the face of what a successful meeting requires—a fully engaged set of attendees that are ready to debate and create. 

A $413 Billion Problem
Ultimately, these factors are having some pretty damning consequences on the value of meetings across the enterprise. Net net, survey respondents agree that 34% of their meetings are not very valuable or worthless. That’s a good chunk of low-value meetings, but for some additional context it’s important to understand that workers spend roughly 31% of their average work week in meetings. When you do the math, workers are spending 26 workdays a year in low-or-no-value meetings. That adds up to $413 billion in annual waste just attributed to bad meetings in the US private sector economy alone. 

Reclaim Your Calendar
There has to be a better path forward, because the current meeting tax being placed on organizations is unsustainable. Employees want to reclaim control over their calendars and only attend the meetings that will be productive for themselves as well as the organization. Specifically, the survey respondents say they could skip 37% of their current meetings and still be productive. It’s time to rethink how we empower employees to be better stewards of their time and confidently make decisions about which meetings to attend and which to skip.

UPDATE 10/1: To address these meeting pain points, today we launched BlueJeans Smart Meetings! Here is our blog post on the news, and here is the full "Painful Reality of Meetings" survey infographic. For more information on Smart Meetings, join our upcoming webinar on 10/9 and download your free trial today! #getsmart