Experts agree with Elon Musk: meetings are a waste of time
They ruin productivity because workers worry about running late, study finds
Regular meetings ruin productivity because workers are constantly worried about running late, a study has found.
Staff anticipating a meeting – or people expecting a friend for dinner – mentally subtract up to 30% of the time they have available. Scientists found that having created an unnecessary buffer “in case something comes up”, people perform fewer tasks, or smaller tasks, than if their next appointment was not looming over them.
Researchers at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business asked participants how long they could spend reading an hour before an appointment for which they were fully prepared. Respondents said they had 50 minutes available, and even said that subjectively it felt like they had only 40 minutes.In a separate study, participants were told either that they had five minutes to kill before an upcoming task, or were told simply they had five minutes spare. Those who were not reminded about the forthcoming task carried out 30% more activities – such as sending texts or replying to e-mails – than those whose thoughts were on the next job.
The study’s co-author, Professor Selin Malkoc, said: “You don’t feel like you can get as much done when you have a task coming up soon. The time seems shorter.
“We feel that if we have a meeting in two hours, we shouldn’t work on any big projects. So we may spend time just answering e-mails or doing things that aren’t as productive.”
The study of all eight lab-based and real-life tests conducted by her team was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Last month, technology entrepreneur Elon Musk advised employees at his Tesla electric car company to “walk out” of bad meetings, and to hang up on unproductive phone calls. “It is not rude to leave; it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time,” he wrote.
– © The Daily Telegraph