Should businesses still be having office meetings?


We can all relate to spending time in pointless meetings that are unstructured, too long and unfocused, and with technology now allowing us to communicate well from any location, is the traditional meeting past its sell by date? How can companies ensure that if they do have meetings they are productive?

According to the ‘Meetings Psychology Study’ which was commissioned by hotel chain Radisson Blu almost half of us leave most meetings feeling they were pointless.

Technology has changed the nature of meetings to a degree and many companies use video conferencing and conference calls to negate the need for travel. However, the recent study from Radisson Blu concluded that when meeting face to face in what they call an ‘enhanced’ meeting room environment – a room featuring walls to write on, bright colours to spark the brain and flexible furniture layout – the creative ideas that were generated represented a return on investment that was 61 per cent higher than a video conference call.

Meetings have benefits – they connect people, bringing them together to share ideas and creative thinking, but they need to be managed well, with a clear and focused agenda. Having a time limit is crucial to help people stay focused, ideally 30 minutes, and definitely no more than 60 minutes.

A recent survey from Wisembly found that UK office workers attend an average of 5.6 meetings a week costing £1,400 per employee every year. If all these meetings are unproductive that’s a lot of wasted time and money.

To keep meetings short and sweet a strict agenda is needed to help people stay on topic and to keep people focused. Training people to have effective chairing skills is also important – good chairing leads to good decision making, the inclusion of the views of everyone present and also good time keeping.

Banning mobile phones and tablets at meetings is also essential. People can’t be attentive if they are constantly looking at their phones. At best they will be giving 50 per cent of their attention, often missing the key points of the meeting, making it a waste of time.

Here are my ten tips on making meetings more productive:

  • Always have an objective for a meeting and make sure you achieve that outcome
  • Always set an agenda and stick to it
  • Get rid of the chairs – get the energy flowing and get people focused
  • Make sure to send the agenda out in plenty of time to each participant so they know what is expected of them
  • Set a time limit. Most meetings should be contained within an hour. No meeting should go over three hours, if it does it needs serious justification
  • Focus on results, decisions and solution – not problems
  • Always appoint someone to chair the meeting and keep everyone on topic
  • Set a good example by always being on time
  • Only invite the right people to be able to achieve the objective of the meeting
  • Follow up any meeting with key actions and deadlines

Stephen Archer, Business Analyst and Director of Spring Partnerships‏