Meetings take up three years of Scots’ lives

Scottish office workers spend 50% more time preparing for and attending meetings than their counterparts in other parts of the UK — around two working days each week and about three years of their working lives — according to new research carried out for eShare.

A survey of more than 1,000 people revealed that the average Scottish office worker attends 5.1 meetings every week, spending one hour and 20 minutes preparing for each meeting and one hour and 24 minutes actually attending it.

This compares to 3.7 meetings per week for the UK as a whole, where office workers spend one hour and nine minutes preparing for each meeting and one hour and 22 minutes attending.

This means that Scottish office workers are spending almost two days of every week — 13 hours and 55 minutes — preparing for and attending meetings.

In a 40 year Scottish career, this amounts to 26,163 hours — almost three years of someone’s life, 50% more than other UK office workers.

“Business cannot function without meetings, but too many of them are inefficient and clearly take too long, with attendees unable to locate the required background information when they need it,” said Alister Esam, CEO, eShare.

“With the average Scottish office worker spending around two days every week on meetings, this is a resource that could be better deployed elsewhere, if meetings were smarter and more focused.”

eShare recently launched MeetingSquared, a new app for anyone who organises or attends meetings, which “looks to bring an end to the inefficient preparation, scheduling and management of meetings.”

The research found that 36% of Scottish office workers feel that at least half of the meetings they attend are unnecessary, while 28% believe that most meetings they attend are inefficient and could be much shorter.

“With so many Scottish office workers stating that most meetings they attend could be shorter, it is clear that the entire meeting process needs to be addressed,” added Esam.

“Whether it is a large corporate or an SME in Scotland, too much valuable resource is being wasted in inefficient meetings.”

The research showed many Scottish office workers (17%) still attend meetings with agendas and supporting materials printed out on paper, but that there is a lack of diligence when the meeting is finished.

About 10.5% of research respondents admitted that after most meetings they just throw away the agenda and printed materials, which can have security implications.

Almost half of respondents (43%) said they often find their mind wondering onto other topics when in meetings, further highlighting the fact that meetings need to be more focused and goal-orientated.

“Anyone attending a meeting must have the relevant emails, documents and agenda available on their device, and be able to annotate and share those with ease,” said Esam.

“Other areas of business have been brought up-to-date in terms of attitudes and technology, and it is high time that meetings did the same.”

The online survey of 1,005 office workers was undertaken by TLF Research in April 2016.

The data was interpreted in the following way:

  • Each week, Scottish office workers spend on average seven hours and seven minutes in meetings and six hours and 48 minutes preparing for them.
  • In a career of 40 years, working 47 weeks per year, the average Scottish office worker will spend three years of their lives preparing for (one year, 24 weeks) and attending (one year, 28 weeks) meetings.
  • In a 40 year career, working 47 weeks a year on a 37 hour week, someone will work a total of 69,560 hours and 26,164 hours will be spent in meetings or preparing for them.

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.