Would Fewer Meetings Enhance American Workers’ Productivity?

New survey reveals the frustration of cumbersome meetings, citing time wasted and fatigue, as one in five workers reports having four to six meetings per day.

In a recent study to investigate the negative impact of meetings on American employee productivity, 90% of respondents said they want less meetings in the workplace to enhance their productivity and cut down on wasted time.

For the survey, FischTank PR polled 685 professionals working in traditional office roles, virtual or in person, but omitting retail or restaurant workers, front line workers, and other jobs that require travel or brick and mortar presence.

(Source: FischTank PR)

The survey revealed that:

  • Almost 90% of respondents concluded that they would benefit from one day without any scheduled calls or meetings
  • 44% of participants reported having two to three scheduled calls or meetings a day, and 20% reported four to six
  • Overall, about 30% of employees reported that the biggest challenge for scheduled calls and meetings was attendee punctuality, with the second biggest challenge reported as meeting fatigue (25%)
  • When a meeting is necessary, 48% of participants reported preferring in-person meetings compared to video (35%) or phone meetings (16%)

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and the transition to remote working, professional and personal lives have been blurred into one. Remote work has introduced a slew of new challenges for office culture and productivity, with most communications taking place virtually and the number of meetings increasing for many. Terms such as “Zoom fatigue” and “meeting fatigue” have become commonplace, and as a result, company morale and efficiency have taken a hit.

During the pandemic, employee burnout reached an all-time high. In fact, a recent study from Robert Half revealed that 44% of employees say they are more burned out on the job today compared to a year ago, and FischTank’s study is evidence that the amount of meetings is only making things worse—but it also offers a solution to help alleviate employee stress.

The simple act of having one day without any meetings can make all the difference for employees, which can result in improved office culture. For instance, FischTank has implemented a program in which Wednesdays are meeting-free, with great success. It provides team members one day a week to catch their breath and be productive free of any interruptions. It also helps team members feel more engaged on days when they have meetings as they are not as worried about falling behind on other tasks.

“The pandemic challenged businesses of all sizes from startups to Fortune 500 companies to rethink their workplace dynamics and culture, and that starts with listening and putting team members first,” said Eric Fischgrund, Founder and CEO of FischTank PR. “Based on our colleague’s feedback, it became clear that meeting fatigue was an issue, especially as some were dealing with young children, family members, pets, and other obstacles in working from home. We also came to understand that even two meetings/calls per day, what some may consider insignificant, was enough to disrupt creativity, writing, strategic planning, and execution. Of course, a meeting-less day is no guaranteed silver bullet, but we will continue to try it and gauge the results based on our team’s feedback.

“As we continue to see larger PR, marketing and creative agencies issue releases announcing a mandatory return to the office full-time for their staff, it’s clear that many companies are not operating with their employees’ best interest in mind despite the pandemic drastically changing their day-to-day life and proving that employees don’t need to be in the office to be productive,” Fischgrund continued. “The longer this outdated mentality remains, the more talent will be leaving these companies in search of opportunities at organizations that prioritize flexibility and well-being, two core themes of FischTank PR culture.”

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