- Report finds that meetings have grown substantially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one-on-one consultations skyrocketing
- Increase in meetings is meant to improve collaboration, but can also impede productivity, lengthen workdays, and lead to employee burnout
- Leaders should pursue a strategy that adequately balances one-on-one check-ins with work-life balance
Summary by Dirk Langeveld
Employees are finding themselves tied up in more meetings than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic as managers seek to preserve one-on-one collaboration, according to recent research from the intelligent calendar company Reclaim. But this trend is also creating significant scheduling disruptions and lengthening employees’ typical workday, potentially increasing the risk of burnout.
The analysis of more than 15,000 workers found that the average worker has 1.12 one-on-one meetings each day, constituting 8 percent of their typical work week. Before the pandemic, workers typically had less than one such meeting each week. Reclaim says the sharp increase in one-on-one meetings is likely attempting to recapture the collaborative benefits of such interactions, which have become less organic as companies move to remote or hybrid work models.
Reclaim also found that busy professionals were spending 25.3 percent more time in meetings compared to February 2020, and 308.8 percent more time in one-on-one meetings. Busy professionals typically spent 32.9 hours in meetings in a typical work week, while the average professional spent 21.5 hours in meetings.
- These obligations are further complicated by frequent rescheduling or cancellation of the meetings; one-one-one meetings are rescheduled 42.4 percent of the time on average each week
- The average professional has seen more than 200 one-on-one meetings rescheduled or canceled over the course of the year, while the typical busy professional has had to reschedule or cancel more than 300 meetings; rescheduling takes an average of 10 minutes to work out a new time and meeting
- The average meeting is 50.6 minutes, while the average one-on-one meeting is 42.9 minutes
- The trend has likely contributed to longer workdays, which have grown from 7.5 hours to 8.9 hours for the average professional and nine hours to 10.13 hours for busy professionals
- Reclaim says “meetings for the sake of meetings” should be discouraged, as updates like weekly status reports can be more effective
- Marcel Schwantes, a human resources professional writing for Inc.com, says the findings illustrate how managers need to pursue a sufficient work-life balance and offer flexibility, but still offer enough one-on-one time to support company goals and encourage employee morale