Communication Leadership

The Real Cost of Unproductive Meetings at Work

If you’re drowning in emails, stuck in unproductive meetings or tapping your fingers during a ridiculously long phone call, it can be hard to find the time to do any real work. Constant interruptions throughout the day are common. Dead-end meetings, overflowing inboxes and staff in a whirlwind of conversations are all key factors that affect our working day.  When you weigh up the amount of time lost from such issues, it’s no wonder there’s a sense of anxiety from feeling like you’re constantly paddling to keep your head above the water.

Meetings are just one of the hidden operating expenses that cost businesses more money than they realise. Great meetings are designed to be a resourceful way to get together and bounce off ideas, overcome obstacles and drive productivity. On the other hand, bad meetings aren’t just tediously boring and inefficient; they come with high costs and can drag business’s bottom line right down.

Culprit #1: The Unproductive Meeting Drag

Meetings – effective meetings – are the lifeblood of an organisation, so it pays to invest in them properly. If your workplace is left feeling team discussions are a waste of time and ineffective, you’re definitely part of the unproductive meeting drag. These meetings don’t just cost the business money but increases stress, hemorrhages staff productivity and negatively affects how the team collaborates and their level of motivation. This results in frustrated employees, very little business results and problem areas within the organisation.

It goes without saying then, that the more time we spend in meetings, the more exhausted and overwhelmed we feel. Research also suggests that staff who attend frequently unproductive meetings perceive the workload to be higher. According to The Mandarin, employees spend 5.6 hours a week in meetings. And 70% felt they weren’t productive. Most meetings lack efficiency because they’re not properly planned or structured (ideally, meetings should be 30 minutes or less), or staff aren’t  actively engaged. To find out how much money you’re throwing down the drain with unproductive meetings, check out this online calculator.


Culprit #2: Email Bombardment

Have you ever thought about how much time you spend fielding and responding to emails? Hint: It’s almost as time-consuming and as costly as those unproductive meetings! An average employee spends 13 hours a week reading, re-reading and responding to emails. That’s 624 hours throughout the working year which is equivalent to 15 weeks for a typical full-time worker!

It’s easy to spend a morning (or a day) lost in emails and information. And as a result, you feel the working hours slipping by, as the time left to do any “real work” stretches beyond the traditional 9-5 day. Unnecessary emails, spam and poorly written communications are the biggest culprits of email bombardment. Not to mention, that nagging urge to reach the inbox zero. Over-reliance on email for team collaborations, client updates and everything in between is costing you precious time and money, and probably part of your sanity too.


Taking Control: Save 2 Hours Per Week

Did you know, that through effective meetings and email protocols, you could save two hours a week? Taking control of those inefficiencies and giving your meetings a much-needed makeover is more attainable than you realise with the right tools and training.

Businesses that are looking for ways to save on operating costs and staff productivity must learn to beat the excessive email battle and optimise their meetings. This includes keeping meetings on track with TRAM (Timely, Results-focused, Achievable or Actionable, Manageable or Motivating), scheduling shorter meetings, only including necessary staff and setting clear expectations in the meeting invite.

Well-written emails and communicating skilfully can encourage better email management too. Turning off email notifications can boost work production by minimising the time spent refocusing after handling every incoming email, which is typically 16 minutes each time!


At Future Institute of Australia, we realise the value of reducing costs, changing the way you connect with your team and how motivated and happy you feel in your workplace. Through our training program, you’ll learn the best strategies to save 2 hours per week (per employee), which can result in tens of thousands of dollars saved each year. To find out more about how we can help you, speak to one of our staff today.