Meetings As Much as You Think

The dreaded business meeting may be painted as a pointless waste of time, but new research finds that most employees do see their value.

The study from ShoreTel, a provider of unified communications, revealed that 88 percent of employees think meetings are at least somewhat productive, with just 11 percent believing they are a complete waste.

Baby boomers, those born between 1943 and 1964, seem to get the most out of meetings: 47 percent of baby boomers think meetings are productive, compared with just 34 percent of younger employees born between 1980 and 2000. However, a similar percentage of baby boomers (9 percent) and millennials (11 percent) felt that meetings aren’t a good use of their time.

 “Our survey dispels many misperceptions about meetings and productivity by the generations currently in the workforce,” Mark Roberts, chief marketing officer of ShoreTel, said in a statement. “For instance, the results did not show that meetings are unproductive, or that certain generations find them a waste of time.”

In general, most workers don’t spend as much time in meetings as many may think.  The study discovered that 45 percent of employees spend less than 4 hours a week in meetings, with another 31 percent spending between 5 and 8 hours a week in meetings. Less than one-quarter of those surveyed spend at least 9 hours in meetings each week.

Most employees say they stay focused on the task at hand during meetings, with 67 percent of respondents saying they listen and take notes. Just 8 percent text or check personal email or social media.

Despite a rise in remote work, nearly 70 percent of employees still attend meetings in person. ShoreTel found that younger workers reported a preference for conference room attendance at about the same rate as other generations, but also had the highest preference for attending remotely via phone.

“Millennials often get a bad rap, but our data shows they participate in meetings in conference rooms with their peers at the same rate as other generations,” Roberts said.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 employees (92 percent from North America) who work in a wide range of industries.