150 spots available: Become a member before 30 June and get 20% discount.

More info.

Research Concludes: We Waste Our Time At Work

Pim de Morree
Written by Pim de Morree June 01, 2022

"[W]e found that employee productivity was 71% higher when meetings were reduced by 40%. Rather than a schedule being the boss, [employees] owned their to-do lists and held themselves accountable, which consequently increased their satisfaction by 52%." But wait, there's more...

4579 1140x0

The quote above is taken from a study shared in this HBR article.

When meetings were reduced over the course of 14 months, researchers found that most everything improved significantly. Engagement, autonomy, satisfaction, productivity and cooperation went up, while stress, and micromanagement went down.

Damn. What's not to like?!

Check out the full results of the research conducted among 76 companies that reduced their meetings:

4558 1140x0

Meeting inflation

While these 76 particular companies focused on having fewer meetings, the vast majority of companies have moved in the opposite direction during the pandemic.

“People have 250 percent more meetings every day than they did before the pandemic,” says Mary Czerwinski, research manager of the Human Understanding and Empathy group at Microsoft.

“That means everything else—like coding and email and writing—is being pushed later," Mary continues in this powerful article for The Atlantic.

Apparently, we continue to increase the time we waste on the very meetings that clearly lower productivity, crush engagement, and cause stress levels to skyrocket.

Holy shit, people. That's bad.

What are we doing?

Fewer meetings, please

Luckily, there's a cure—and it's as common sense as you might think: reduce the time you spend in meetings.

Seriously. That's it.

Software giant SAP has recently announced a pilot around meeting-free days. The goal is to give employees more freedom before the weekend. Conferences—and also telephone and video calls—should be dispensed with on Fridays as much as possible.

This helps to provide a largely undisturbed working time for employees on Fridays. Cawa Younosi, the company's Head of People Experience, explains the reasoning:

"We go through the working week at top speed; but what falls by the wayside is the opportunity to work intensively on things, learn new things or take a deep breath during a lunch break."

Lovely move, SAP. Lovely move.

Stop wasting time

Going back to the data shared in the image above, ditching meetings altogether doesn't seem to be a good idea either (although it's still a significant improvement compared to the status quo!).

When meetings are reduced with 100%, engagement, productivity and cooperation are lower compared to a meeting reduction of 80%.

Conclusion: figure out which meetings to keep and which ones to ditch.

Get started with these three valuable tips from successful pioneers:

  • Create a fixed meeting rhythm for your team and organization, which includes a rigorous selection of truly vital meetings. More tips in Joost's recent article here.
  • For 99% of your remaining meetings, the magic word is "asynchronous." Get things done asynchronously. Collaborate with colleagues, but let everyone do it in their own time, at their own pace. Use collaboration tools such as Miro, Mural, Basecamp and Slack to make it work.
  • Boost transparency around who's working on what. Knowing who's working on what helps to foster collaboration without the need for meetings. Create radical transparency around individual goals, team goals, challenges, and team performance.

Good luck getting back your valuable time!

For the 20% of meetings you'll want to keep, we'd strongly advise you to introduce highly effective meeting processes. We've selected some of the most powerful ones in one of our online courses.

Click here to start upgrading your meetings

Written by Pim de Morree
Pim de Morree
As co-founder of Corporate Rebels I focus on: researching, writing, speaking, and building our company.
Read more
Jun 02, 2024
Self-Management Failed, Now What?
Marc-Peter Pijper Written by Marc-Peter Pijper
Self-management models are often seen as solutions to rigid, traditional corporate structures, promising greater innovation and employee…
Read more about Self-Management Failed, Now What?
May 05, 2024
Thriving in Autonomy: Why Self-Management Doesn't Lead to Burnout
Joost Minnaar Written by Joost Minnaar
One question frequently arises when discussing self-managing organizations: Isn't it overly taxing? The concern is understandable. With the…
Read more about Thriving in Autonomy: Why Self-Management Doesn't Lead to Burnout
Apr 21, 2024
Animated Video: Balancing Freedom and Alignment in Self-Managing Organizations
Pim de Morree Written by Pim de Morree
Within self-managing organizations, there's always the tension between the excitement of freedom and the necessity of alignment. Without…
Read more about Animated Video: Balancing Freedom and Alignment in Self-Managing Organizations
Apr 14, 2024
Recording: How We Buy Companies And Transform Them Into A Force For Good
Pim de Morree Written by Pim de Morree
Buying companies and transforming them into a force for good. That's what we do with our company Krisos. Last week, we organized a webinar…
Read more about Recording: How We Buy Companies And Transform Them Into A Force For Good
Mar 31, 2024
Creating a Culture of Ownership: Breaking Free from Hierarchy
Diederick Janse Written by Diederick Janse
The buzzword 'ownership' has been circulating in education and business circles for the past decade. Apparently, we want more of it, but…
Read more about Creating a Culture of Ownership: Breaking Free from Hierarchy
Mar 24, 2024
From Acquisition to Impact: How We're Turning The Company We Bought into a Force for Good
Pim de Morree Written by Pim de Morree
A few weeks ago, I spent two days in Seville (Spain). We invited several 'new ways of working' enthusiasts over to witness the ongoing…
Read more about From Acquisition to Impact: How We're Turning The Company We Bought into a Force for Good
Read all articles

Download: Free Guide

Unlock our in-depth guide on trends, tools, and best practices from over 150 pioneering organizations.

Subscribe below and receive it directly in your inbox.

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.