Believe it or not, we’re spending less time in meetings than we used to

    Time in meetings has dropped to 14.8 hours a week in 2024 from 21.5 hours a week in 2021, according to a survey.

    Rudzhan Nagiev/Getty Images

    Desk workers’ weekly meeting hours have decreased by 31% since 2021, says a survey by might have fewer meetings than a few years ago, but the time can still cut into productivity. Despite the drop in appointments, workers only attend 83% of them, often because they’re too busy.

    We’re spending less time in meetings than just a few years ago. Yet, like a dieter who’s cut a few pounds but can’t see it, our extra free time isn’t always obvious.

    According to, which makes an AI-powered calendar app, desk workers’ time in meetings has dropped to 14.8 hours a week in 2024 from 21.5 hours a week in 2021. That’s a 31% decrease, according to data from 1,300 workers it surveyed.

    That reduction might surprise those of us who twitch when we hear a meeting reminder go off. Of course, many people are still beholden to too many calendar events, but it seems it could be worse.

    The change can be partially explained by Covid. There was a jump in meetings, especially one-on-ones, during the depths of pandemic lockdowns because so many people were working from home, Henry Shapiro, cofounder and COO, told Business Insider.

    “There was this big spike and almost overcorrection,” he said. “Then people kind of settled out and said, like, ‘Wait, what are we all doing here?'”

    But while some of us have managed to shed meetings, we still attend an average of 17.1 a week. And they’re taking longer, with the average meeting length at 51.9 minutes, up from 50.6 in 2021. Thanks, “just one more thing” crowd.

    All of this time can be costly. The survey, which focused on tech companies, found that employees spend 37% of their work hours in meetings. said that, based on the average pay in the US, those get-togethers add up to about $29,000 per worker yearly.

    The biggest culprit: team meetings. There are an average of 6.7 a week, though about eight in 10 workers canceled or rescheduled one of those in the past year because their calendars were bursting.

    Shapiro said the rise of remote work during the pandemic — and its relative endurance even now with hybrid setups — meant many of us saw meetings as an essential way to connect with others. Some workers believed they had to revive ties with colleagues after years of working apart, Shapiro said.

    “Those relationships used to get built inside of the office in all these sort of serendipitous ways. And now, the only real function for them to do that is through some kind of recurring touchpoint,” he said.

    Shapiro said meetings have their place, especially because not all workers are together every day. Yet they need to be a good use of time, he added. “There is such a thing as bad meetings. There is such a thing as good meetings,” Shapiro said.

    The business of managing your calendar itself can drain productivity, he said. The survey, which was conducted from February through April, found that workers spend about three hours a week booking and rescheduling meetings.

    Many workers are so overcommitted that they attend only 83% of what they’re supposed to. We’re canceling, declining, or skipping 3.5 meetings a week, the survey found. The main reason — cited by more than eight in 10 respondents — was a conflict with, you guessed it, another meeting. A slightly smaller percentage said they opted to ditch the meeting to focus on something more important.

    Having fewer meetings could help add flexibility to our workdays. That’s a priority for many of us. In a survey involving nearly 1,100 Gen Zers in March and April by the career platform iHire, 81.3% of respondents reported that choice over “when, where, and how” they would do a job was either “extremely” or “very” important.

    That was nearly in line with the 82.2% of young US workers who stated that having a would-be employer extend a “fair and competitive” salary was extremely or very important.

    And, yet, tiresome as they can be, meetings are often essential, Ron Hetrick, senior labor economist at the research firm Lightcast, previously told BI.

    “People rip on meetings,” he said. “But there’s a value in meetings.” Hetrick said workers — particularly those early in their careers — use meetings to mature and learn what happens when people might disagree. “I’m seeing how problems get worked out,” he said.

    Shapiro works remotely most of the time but is in the office on Wednesdays. On those days, he schedules only a few meetings, like a handful of one-on-ones, where he might grab coffee and go for a walk with a colleague.

    “The way I’ve described it to the team is Wednesdays are some of my least productive days,” Shapiro said. “And yet they’re also like my best days in a lot of ways.”

    An earlier version of this story appeared on April 24, 2024.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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