The hidden costs of meeting room inefficiency


Whether you love them or hate them, business meetings are a staple of office life.

Run well, they can be instrumental in helping you thrash out ideas, solve problems and improve communication.

But run badly, they can quickly turn into a boring, frustrating waste of time.

A lot has been written about the impact of unnecessary meetings in the workplace.

A recent survey of 1,000 office workers in the UK revealed an average employee spends 10 hours and 42 minutes each week preparing for and attending 4.4 meetings, with 2.6 of those seen as unnecessary - costing the UK’s 5.4 million businesses approximately £191bn a year*.

Much has been made of things you can do to make meetings more productive: like setting clear objectives and a clear agenda, minimising the number of attendees and introducing videos and presentations to keep people focused and interested.

But did you know a substantial amount of time - and ultimately productivity - is wasted and lost before a meeting actually starts?

Recent research reveals one of the top five reasons for time being wasted at meetings is being able to find a meeting room that’s actually available – with almost half of those surveyed saying they can spend up to ten minutes trying to find a room that’s free**.

Some companies do have online meeting room booking systems where you can search for and reserve available rooms.

But that doesn’t mean meetings will start on time - if at all.

Booking meeting rooms online doesn’t stop people commandeering rooms ‘on the fly’ as they pass by if they appear to be empty.

If there isn’t clear signage outside the room to show what time the next meeting is taking place, you run the risk of having your meeting ‘bumped’ if the ‘possession being 9/10th of the law’ rule applies in your company culture.

Poor signage is a big factor in time being wasted before a meeting gets underway.

In many offices paper signage outside doors is still the preferred method to show who’s booked a room out at any particular time.

While on the surface this seems to be cost effective -it actually isn’t.

You’ve got print and paper costs and the time taken for someone to manually change each sign after each meeting.

If you have lots of meeting rooms and lots of changes that need to be made quickly, paper signage just isn’t going to cut it.

Visitors and staff get confused, can end up in the wrong room or turning up late if the changes aren’t updated in time.

In fact, half the respondents surveyed said they also waited up to fifteen minutes for other attendees to either arrive or dial in for meetings, leading to even more time being wasted on delayed starts.

So, if the average meeting has 6 attendees* and you have 3 meetings a week, that’s a cool £135 in lost productivity*** before meetings have even started!

With 63% of workers attending at least one meeting a day**, and 36% required to attend between two and four a day** you can see how delays in finding rooms and starting meetings can have a serious impact on your costs and productivity.

What’s the real cost of meeting room inefficiency in your organisation?

*Facilitate Magazine
**MOO 2019
***based on ONS average salary UK, 2019