Meeting inefficiency: a multi-billion waste
Our economies are in a productivity crisis12. For a part this is because we are overwhelmed by the complexity of modern business. We send emails with twenty cc instead of just getting the thing done. We spend more and more time in meetings every day, meeting complex issues down instead of clearing them up. Some go so far to say, that we reached a state, where effective work cannot be done any more in the office3.
Already in 2001, the annual waste of personnel costs through inefficient meetings was estimated to be in the multi-billion dollar range, and this was for managers alone4. This number is likely to have increased and must be much higher if all meeting costs, not only from managers, are included. While it is hard to come by more recent and creditable numbers, we can try to best guess the order of magnitude.
An estimate of meeting costs
From more than $7 trillion of personnel costs in the U.S. in 20155, and almost the same number of € in the EU 6, let us ignore the half with absurdly high incomes and cautiously assume 10% are spent for meetings (7-15% were estimated in 20014, 6-9 hours per week is another estimate7). That would account for more than $300 billion costs for meetings. If a third of this time is wasted (maybe even half of it 8), meeting inefficiency costs $100 billion. In the U.S. as well as the EU. Every year.