Six Percent of UK Workers Take Naps in Meetings
Slough, 18th September 2015 – From IT issues, to not having a formal meeting agenda, to checking social media or even falling asleep – these are just some of the factors contributing to nearly half of UK workers* (49 percent) spending time every week in inefficient and unproductive meetings, according to new online YouGov research commissioned by global business outsourcing partner, Arvato.
Nearly a quarter of UK workers check personal emails during meetings, and an average 29 percent regularly read or send personal SMS messages or use social media.
Workers in London are the biggest culprits (60 percent), and men are more likely to be distracted than women (62 percent vs 48. percent).
Distractions and delays caused by technology
An ‘always on’ culture and raft of distractions at people’s fingertips are likely contributors behind these statistics, with an average 33 percent of workers who attend meetings confessing to checking personal emails, social media or sending personal SMS messages during meetings. Some workers find it such a struggle to stay focused that they fall asleep, with an astounding six percent admitting that they have taken naps during meetings.
Those in London are the most susceptible to distractions, and men are more likely to engage in other activities during meetings. For example, the data shows that Londoners are over 50 percent more likely to send personal emails in meetings when compared to the North (35 percent vs. 22 percent), and men are nearly twice as likely to check or send private SMS messages than their female counterparts (32 percent vs. 19 percent).
While new technology may cause a distraction, old technology also plays a role in meeting efficiency, with almost half of workers (45 percent) experiencing delays and interruptions due to IT issues.
Lack of discipline and process
A lack of discipline and poor adherence to best practice processes is another challenge, with 43 percent of UK employees regularly experiencing meetings that start late or overrun. Approximately 14 percent regularly have meetings cancelled or rescheduled at the last minute, causing further interruptions and delays which reduces productivity.
Almost a third (31 percent) of workers regularly attend meetings without a formal agenda, and 36 percent also admit that their meetings aren’t followed up with minutes or actions, resulting in an undefined meeting output.
Top meeting annoyances
Upon being asked in an open ended question what annoyed them most about meetings, respondents frequently mentioned having to travel long distances, meetings scheduled to take place over lunch time, needless repetition and digression, and people who love the sound of their own voice.
One commented: “The most annoying thing is other people monopolising the meeting for an ego trip.” Another disgruntled employee complained: “They are generally a waste of time, people turning up late, broad agendas and few decisions made.”
Commenting on the findings, Debra Maxwell, CEO, CRM & Public Sector UK & Ireland, Arvato said: “The UK has a well-documented, long term productivity problem. While many of the causes behind this are structural, it is clear that in day-to-day business, employees’ time is wasted due to a lax meeting culture.”
“Some of these examples, like napping in a meeting, are extreme. But if we all change something about the way we hold meetings – for example sticking to agendas, or allowing people to dial in rather than making them travel long distances for meetings – then these small things could make a big impact on overall productivity.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2066 adults, of which 1,172 work full/ part time. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th - 11th August 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Below is a selection of responses to the following Arvato YouGov survey question: What ONE thing, if anything, annoys you the most about the meetings you attend for work purposes? (Please type your answer in the box below, giving as much detail as possible)
“The location. It's usually somewhere difficult to get to without a car and I have to beg a lift.”
“People who don't stick to the agenda and talk about irrelevant things.”
“A lot of people sit around talking just because they like the sound of their own voices; they should go and do some real work...”
“Wasted time due to travel or poor IT connections.”
“People 'waffling' to drag the meeting on longer as they do not have any real work to do.”
“Lack of actions completed from previous meeting.”
“People cancelling them at short notice because they have a supposedly more important meeting.”