Like them or not, meetings are a big part of office life. According to career site The Muse, middle managers spend about 35% of their time in meetings, while high-level managers spend a whopping 50% of their time holed up in conference rooms. It's no wonder, then, that so many employees loathe meetings and would do just about anything to get out of attending them.

But worker sentiments aside, here's another reason why your company might want to consider limiting the extent to which employees spend time in meetings: A good 60% of workers say meetings are a major distraction at the office, according to online learning platform Udemy. In fact, meetings are what prevent a large number of workers from completing key tasks on a regular basis.

Man and two women checking phones at conference table

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Compounding the problem is the fact that meetings not only serve as a distraction, but lend to distractions while they're going on. In fact, 54% of workers say meetings are typically interrupted by small talk and gossip, while 45% blame side discussions for throwing meetings off-course. Furthermore, 37% of workers find that late arrivals detract from meetings, while 33% say technology mishaps make them less efficient than they should be.

If your company operates under a meeting-heavy culture, it may be time to rethink that plan. Otherwise, you risk losing out on employee productivity and incurring the wrath of workers whose time is inevitably wasted.

A more strategic approach to meetings

Meetings are often a necessary means of bringing groups of people up to speed on company happenings or allowing folks to collaborate. But your employees should only be forced to endure so many in the space of a week. Not only do meetings take up valuable work time, but as per Udemy, they often serve the unhealthy purpose of distracting employees from more important matters.

Imagine you assign an employee a major project that requires deep concentration. If that worker has a meeting on his schedule every other half hour, he's going to have a hard time getting into the groove on that task and making headway. Therefore, it pays to employ some sort of policy wherein managers are encouraged to space out meetings appropriately to make for fewer distractions.

Additionally, it pays to institute meeting-free days at your company. You might mandate that this happen on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, but the key is to give workers some days at the office where they're guaranteed an eight-hour chunk of time in which they can be at their desks.

Finally, encourage managers to team up and consolidate meetings rather than hold a separate gathering for every single workplace issue that needs to be shared or addressed. Two separate hour-long meetings could easily become a single 90-minute meeting under the right circumstances, thereby freeing up valuable time.

There's no question about it: Meetings are a necessary evil. Too many, however, can really limit your workers' output, so be mindful of that before you book your next conference room.

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