Why It’s More Productive to Have Fewer Meetings

Why It’s More Productive to Have Fewer Meetings

Why It’s More Productive to Have Fewer Meetings

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Many people who have heard the adage ‘work smart, not hard’ may think my claim here is tip-toeing around this idea and echoing this sentiment, but they would be wrong. As the nature of work continues to undergo intense scrutiny, primarily focused on the ‘where,’ debates surrounding the frequency and necessity of workplace meetings have also surged. This topic is now discussed in significant volume, and rightly so. In 2024, we have many opportunities to change productivity, creativity and employee satisfaction. There is a compelling case for working teams to have far fewer meetings, which I buy into heavily. Let me tell you why.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Meetings Are Worth Attending

The cost of excessive meetings

The cost of putting people through excessive meetings is first up. At the core of most working teams, leaders and bosses are usually quite tentative about the set-up of teams and the expenses they incur. Having meetings is something that most see as a productive, progressive task, and therefore, often slips under the radar when it comes to culling unnecessary and costly activities. However, current research and personal experience tell me that it should not. Research highlights a trend where excessive meetings can detract significantly from productivity. Specifically, a study conducted by Harvard Business Review found a pretty substantial increase of 71% in employee productivity and satisfaction when meeting frequencies were reduced by 40%.

So, not only do you boost your team’s output when you reduce meetings, but you also get more bang for your buck with your personnel. It is extremely common that not every meeting section will apply to every attendee and their workflow, and therefore, people find themselves twiddling their thumbs and listening to colleagues present work out of politeness to them and the meeting leader.

Could this time be spent better elsewhere? Almost certainly. Could the information be delivered in a better, more targeted manner? Definitely.

As mentioned at the start, there are opportunities to deliver information more efficiently than within a meeting, arising with new technologies, such as Slack, Notion or Bubbles. Don’t waste the time of your colleagues in inapplicable meetings and the money you spend on their salaries. Instead, discuss what needs to be discussed in the meeting, and continue that meeting conversation asynchronously with a tool like the aforementioned, keeping the details and context of the information delivered, but in a more efficient way.

Related: Get the Most Out of Remote Meetings and Avoid Meeting Burn Out

The psychological and operational impact

Not everything is about cost, and in fact, many bosses would prioritize operational brilliance over some extra spending. Therefore, we must look at how this claim sits within the operational side of things. I want to dig deeper into the statistics just covered to question whether this is just an anomaly and the preference of a select few or whether the vast majority believe reduced meetings will positively affect their workplace operations.

I have noticed and heard from my team members that meeting less allows them to feel more autonomous and less micromanaged, meaning they hold themselves more accountable for getting work done.

We experience that working alone boosts the possibility of deep focus too, something essential in creative roles. We find that tuning in for a team meeting to discuss a larger chunk of either completed or blocked work means that we operate at optimal efficiency with increased output. As I claimed, this is about making the right decisions with the technologies available to us in 2024.

That was most operational, so let’s deep dive into the psychology. Meetings often lead to what is known as “Meeting Recovery Syndrome,” which is where employees need time to regather their thoughts and mentally recover after frequent, long or chaotic meetings.

Related: Meetings Suck. Here Are 5 Ways to Make Them Suck Less.

Strategic meeting reduction techniques

Now that we have more clarity, let’s look at how your business can optimize their meeting practices:

  • No-Meeting Days: Allow that deep work to take place. Have days where interruptions rarely happen, and let workflows thrive with concentration.
  • Prioritize Agenda-Driven Meetings: Don’t meet if you don’t know why you’re meeting. Annette Catino, CEO of QualCare Alliance Network, put this nicely: “Give me an agenda or else I’m not going to sit there.” Meet better, not more often.
  • Limit Meeting Duration and Size: Amazon uses a two-pizza rule — don’t invite more people than two pizzas can feed. Don’t flood the room and overrun, and you will get more thoughtful input and outcomes.
  • Embrace Technology: Integrate AI tools, meeting management tools and platforms that can automate parts of meetings to maximize efficiency. Don’t waste time doing silly, mundane tasks.

Just like that, you will arrive at the future of meetings. They are set to become more strategic, and instead of being the default communicative method, teams (the good ones) will adopt a more thoughtful approach where they assess the real need for each meeting and the potential value it holds. Don’t fall behind the curve, and from now on, create a culture of meetings being made better, not busier, regardless of whether you are in-person or remote.

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