Do you hate meetings? So do most people. Unfortunately, we're having more and more of them. That's just one result from the State of the Modern Meeting report recently released by the cloud-based video conferencing company Blue Jeans Network, based on its analysis of more than five million video meetings in 177 countries, more than a third of which had an in-person component as well.
There were two bright spots in Blue Jeans' research: The average meeting is getting smaller, with only three participants, down from 4.3 in earlier reports. Perhaps as a result, meetings are also getting shorter, down to an average 36 minutes from 45 minutes last year.
The rest of the news isn't so good:
1. We're having more weekend meetings--a lot more.
So much for work-life balance. The data shows that Saturday meetings are up by 49 percent, and Sunday meetings up by a frightening 84 percent from previous years.
2. Most of our meetings are at the worst time of day.
During the average workday, when do you feel most dull-brained? If you're like most people, that low point comes in mid-afternoon, around 3 p.m. So what is the most popular meeting time? You guessed it--mid-afternoon, around 3 p.m. Maybe you can sit toward the back and catch an inconspicuous nap.
3. Punctuality is a thing of the past.
A ghastly 81 percent of meetings start late, up 30 percent from previous research, with East Coast meeters being the worst offenders and upstanding Midwesterners the most likely to arrive on time. This problem is only likely to get worse, since tardiness is a self-perpetuating phenomenon. If you arrive five minutes late to a meeting and it hasn't started yet, you'll figure you haven't missed anything, so you'll likely do the same next time, or maybe show up even later. Meanwhile, the punctual people who've sat around waiting for you will figure they have better uses for their time, and next time they'll come five minutes late as well, or maybe even later. The only way out of this vicious cycle is to be strict about starting every meeting on time, whether or not everyone is there.
4. The worse it is outside, the more we love to meet.
When spring has sprung and buds are on the trees, people don't schedule meetings, probably because they'd rather be enjoying the weather. On the other hand, winter sees twice as many meetings as other times of year. Not only that, the more awful the weather is, the more we seem to need to meet. Meetings were up by as much as 26 percent during the recent Texas flooding, and an impressive 35 percent during the Boston blizzards last winter.
5. Tech startups seem to love meetings.
From Apple to Google to Facebook, the nation looks to Silicon Valley and its masterfully innovative companies and culture as a guide to what the rest of us should do. That likely means even more meetings are coming. The biggest tech startup centers also lead the nation in meetings, with the West Coast in general holding one-and-a-half times as many meetings as everywhere else. Silicon Valley is seeing the highest number of meetings, followed by San Francisco, New York City, L.A., and London.
6. Skipping meetings can cost you.
Whether you love meetings or hate them, they're not going anywhere any time soon. In one survey, 47 percent of professionals admitted they'd lost a client or deal because they failed to meet face-to-face. Not surprisingly, Blue Jeans Network suggests using videoconferencing instead of conference calls to replace in-person meetings. That's certainly a good idea as far as it goes. But research shows that no technological replacement is as good as sitting down with someone in the same room.