The cost and value of staff meetings within a business can be a major drain on time and money. Many studies have analysed just how much time is wasted in meetings at work, and most office workers can confirm this anecdotally. 

Savvy business leaders and efficient managers understand the cost of unnecessary meetings and work hard to avoid this where possible. This often includes implementing strict meeting procedures, such as time limits and only inviting those who need to be there. It can also include using communication technology to conduct meetings remotely such as Slack or Skype, to save time.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the UK (and much of the world) was placed into lockdown, the majority of office workers began to work from home, and with this, naturally, came an increase in time spent in meetings.

Working from home means staff can no longer pop over to a colleagues desk to ask a quick question, or join the morning huddle to get an idea of the day’s tasks and goals. This has led to an increase in time spent in online meetings, using apps such as Zoom and Skype. 

Existing UK guidance on Covid-19 states that anyone who can work from home (such as the majority of office workers) should continue to do so, and so time spent in meetings is unlikely to drop in the short term. 

With this in mind, the team at CIPHR, one of the UK’s leading HR software companies, decided to take a look into the true cost of time spent in meetings, as well as what else could be done with this time, by creating a virtual meeting calculator.

For someone who spends a fairly typical 1 hour per day in meetings at work, their time based on a salary of £45,000 would equate to £474 per month spent in meetings, at a total of 20 hours per month. The calculator also shows that in this time, you could actually make your own toilet paper!

For a more senior member of staff, such as an office manager or executive, the time spent in meetings per week is typically much higher. 

Assuming an executive on a salary of £120,000 per year spends half of their time, around 20 hours per week, in meetings, it would equate to a staggering cost of £5,095 per month. Or as the meeting calculator illustrates, the same amount of time it would take to wash your hands while humming happy birthday twice, 14,400 times!

Commenting on the release of the virtual meeting calculator, David Richter, director of marketing at CIPHR, said: “This new calculator puts a light-hearted spin on the sudden increase of virtual meetings and chat that many organisations are adjusting to.” 

“Next time you’re about to send a virtual meeting request, think: could this be an email instead? Is every person on the invitation list genuinely required (or is there anyone important missing)? Will it really take an hour, or will 15 or 30 minutes suffice? And when you’re in a virtual meeting, respect your co-workers’ time and stay on topic. Equally, while chat apps are a great way for colleagues to keep in touch in an informal way, too many notifications can end up being distracting. If you want an answer to a question that’s not urgent, email may be best. And if you need a block of time to focus on an activity, change your notification settings to ‘do not disturb’.” 

He added: “Remember, virtual meetings and chat apps are just some of the ways to communicate information; for critical announcements, organisations might find it more effective to use functionality available in specialist HR systems like CIPHR.”

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