One-third of Meetings Are Unnecessary, Costing Companies Millions (and No One Is Happy About It)

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New Otter.ai study unveils that optimizing meeting attendance, while sharing automatic notes, can boost productivity and cut costs

Otter.ai, the world’s leading meeting transcription and collaboration tool, in partnership with the University of North Carolina Chancellor’s professor and award-winning author, Dr. Steven Rogelberg, today released new findings on the cost of unnecessary meetings and its impact on organizations and their employees. The report found that almost a third of meetings are unnecessary and organizations waste millions of dollars on them.

“The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance”

The findings put a spotlight on the amount of strain unnecessary and wasted meeting attendance places on companies’ financials and their employees, including:

  • Companies pay an average of $80K per professional employee to attend meetings each year and $25K (31%) is to attend meetings deemed “unnecessary.”
  • Despite the profound amount of wasted time in meetings, companies and managers (78%) have never addressed declining meetings with employees, leaving employees feeling “annoyed” and “frustrated.”
  • Optimizing meeting attendance, while sharing meeting notes with employees who need the information, would not only reduce strain on employees and increase productivity organizationally, it would also help companies drastically cut costs they invest in unnecessary meetings by millions – companies with 100+ employees, cutting unnecessary meetings could save over $2M each year and for companies with more than 5,000 employees that number climbs to over $100M.

Dr. Rogelberg, who has done work around meetings with companies including Google, Facebook, United Nations, and Cisco, and recently spoke in front of the US Congress, found that most employees cite “organizational norms” and the lack of conversation around when meetings can be skipped as the main reason why they feel the need to attend meetings, even if they deem their attendance as unnecessary.

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“The expectations and norms around meeting culture in so many companies is highly damaged,” Rogelberg describes. “When employees are in meetings that they don’t need to be in, they often sit there disengaged, or multi-task which distracts others and can derail the meeting. Not only does this impact the quality of the meeting, but it claims essential employee productivity and time.”

Beyond creating a more open and communicative meeting culture, the report found 71% of employees would be empowered to skip unnecessary meetings if high quality meeting notes were shared in a timely manner, not just to those who attended, but with anyone who might need the information. A growing number of companies are doing this by adopting Otter across their organization, which takes automated meetings notes and shares those notes, along with meeting Takeaways and an Automated Outline within the team, allowing for review and further collaboration even if someone skipped the meeting.

“Now, more than ever, with a slowing economy and with the rise of hybrid and remote work, companies need to re-evaluate meeting culture, practices, and tools,” says Otter.ai CEO and co-founder Sam Liang. “We’ve seen companies implement employee tracking software and mandate that employees return to in-office work, all with the goal of increasing productivity. While these initiatives are often met with resistance by employees, reducing time spent in unnecessary meetings is a solution that is a win for both employee and employer.”

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