Survey Upends Common Meeting Myths

Contrary to the common perception that organizations hold too many meetings that get in the way of real work, and that they are a general waste of time useful only for multitasking, a recent global survey found the opposite to be true. ShoreTel’s survey, dubbed the Build a Better Meeting Challenge, asked people how many hours they spend in meetings weekly, as well as their perceptions regarding that use of time based on their generation (Baby Boomer, Gen X, or Millennials) company size, industry, and region.

Click to enlarge. (Source: ShoreTel Build a Better Meeting Challenge)

More than two-thirds of the over 1,000 respondents (76 percent) said they spend one hour or less each weekday in meetings. Generation X’ers (born between 1965-1979) were more likely than the other generations to spend more time in weekly meetings at over 9 hours (28 percent), as were people working in Technology (30 percent).

Only 11 percent of global respondents found meetings a “waste of time.” Forty percent of all respondents reported meetings were “productive” with 48 percent saying they were “sort of productive.” Overall, Baby Boomers (born between 1943-1964) were the most likely to think meetings were productive (47 percent) as compared to Millennials (born between 1980-2000, at 34 percent). However, Baby Boomers and Millennials were virtually identical and the lowest in calling them a waste of time (9 percent and 11 percent, respectively).

What do people do in meetings? The majority of all respondents (67 percent) listen and take notes, 25 percent get other work done, and only 8 percent say they are checking personal email, texting, or engaging with social media.

Whether working from home or in the office, there appears to be no correlation as to how people view meetings or meeting productivity. Of all respondents, 46 percent work at the office every day, although that number is much smaller in Europe (29 percent). Asia had the fewest hours of meetings a week (57 percent citing 0-4 hours) and Australia the most (45 percent citing more than 9 hours). Both Asia and Europe found meetings to be more productive (48 percent and 52 percent respectively) than North America (40 percent).

People Prefer Conference Rooms

Globally, the majority of respondents report a preference for meeting in conference rooms (64 percent), with Education reporting the highest (81 percent) from conference rooms. The Technology sector attends by phone or remotely half the time. Interestingly, Millennials (representing 57 percent of Asian respondents, 48 percent of European respondents, and only 25 percent in North America), reported a preference for conference room attendance at about the same rate as other generations (64 percent for Millennials, 65 percent for Gen X’ers, and 63 percent for Baby Boomers), but also had the highest preference for attending via desk phone (24 percent).

Click to enlarge. (Source: ShoreTel Build a Better Meeting Challenge)

Not surprisingly, enterprises reported the most meetings and start-ups the fewest.

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

For more survey results, see the Build a Better Meeting e-book. To take the meeting challenge, visit here.