Do You Know the Average Time Spent in Meetings?

Improve workplace productivity by learning how much time your team spends in meetings and how much your meetings are costing you.

Imagine this: You arrive at the office on Monday morning and log onto your computer to review your calendar for the week. Once again, it looks like you’ll be spending nearly half of your working hours meeting with colleagues. Between one-on-ones with direct reports, team meetings, check-ins, and decision-making meetings, it will be challenging to set aside enough time to work through your deliverables. If only your company leaders understood that having too many meetings takes a toll on your productivity, focus, and engagement. 

Read on to learn how many meetings employees attend on average per week, discover the cost of a meeting, see what hinders meeting productivity, and determine how you can limit the amount of time you spend in meetings. 

How many meetings do people attend per week? 

In the United States alone, there are around 55 million meetings held each week. Our research shows that people attend an average of between 11 to 15 meetings per week. Of these meetings, the most common type are weekly team meetings and project meetings. Nearly 50% of executives attend between 6 and 15 meetings per week, while managers attend more than 16. Employees at most companies will spend up to 33% of their workweek in meetings and organizations as a whole spend around 15% of their time in meetings. Employees are most likely to have the most meetings on Mondays and their longest meetings usually happen on Wednesdays. 

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How much do meetings cost per week? 

Your meetings may be costing you more than you think. Did you know that unproductive meetings cause around $37 billion in business losses each year? Billions of precious working hours are wasted every year as a result. 

To show you how much a typical meeting costs, let’s break down that cost for a small team. Let’s say you have 10 meeting participants and the average annual salary of the group is $70,000. If the group meets twice per week for one hour each time, these team meetings will cost the company $35,000 per year. Each meeting costs $337 and takes up 1,040 employee working hours. 

To find out how much it costs to bring your team together for a meeting, use Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator

5 factors that hinder meeting productivity

1Not having clear takeaways

Each meeting should have a clear goal and takeaways at the end. Takeaways are action items that each attendee can walk away with once the meeting comes to a close. Takeaways need to include details and context surrounding how and when each task should be completed. After every meeting, the group should also be familiar with status updates on important and timely topics, have an understanding of how to move forward with key tasks and projects, and know the date and time of the next meeting. Leave 10 to 15 minutes for questions and answers at the end of each group meeting to make sure everyone understands their next steps. 

2Lacking preparation

We’ve all attended meetings with flustered organizers, hosts, and attendees. When employees aren’t prepared for a meeting, the group will inevitably take longer to organize itself. It will also be difficult to come to new solutions if no one spends time before the meeting conducting research or brainstorming ideas. It’s simple: Inadequate preparation leads to poor group performance, disorganization, and even lapses in communication. 

3Having poor participation

If employees don’t participate during a meeting, the team morale will suffer. Meetings are times meant to share ideas, make decisions, build relationships, and motivate one another. It’s hard to do these things when employees are quiet and disengaged. Without participation, a team can’t collaborate to solve problems. You can encourage meeting participation by using engagement tools like meeting software (hint: Fellow) that spark interest, including others in the meeting preparation stage, and asking for regular feedback. Ensure you accommodate hybrid and remote employees as well by investing in the right technology. 

4Going off topic

There are excellent times to chat with your teammates about their personal lives and pets, but meetings aren’t one of them. Going off topic during regular meeting times will only make your team less productive in the long run. When you go off topic, you communicate to other participants that the meeting topic is unimportant. Staying on topic demonstrates respect for others and their ideas. If necessary to help the group stay on topic, slot in 5 or 10 minutes at the end of a team meeting for off-topic stories and conversations that participants are excited to share. 

5Having poor time management

We’ve all been a part of meetings that go over the allotted timeframe. A poorly managed meeting may go over time because it never had a clear goal from the beginning. On other occasions, meeting organizers may have a poor sense of how much time it will take to move through meeting items. Poor time management before and during meetings can lead to rushed conversations, lateness, missed deadlines, and dissatisfied employees. Aim to keep meetings within the allotted timeframe by planning out topics and sharing a collaborative meeting agenda in advance. 

5 ways to limit the amount of time spent in meetings each week 

1Use a meeting agenda

No agenda, no attenda. A collaborative meeting agenda should be distributed before every meeting so attendees have time to review the agenda, process new information, prepare, and add their own details. In each agenda, establish the meeting type, state the objective, identify specific meeting topics, allocate time to discuss each topic, and attach any necessary documents. 

Try Fellow if you want to say goodbye to unproductive meetings! With our meeting agendas, you and your team can take a collaborative approach to transform your meetings into productive work sessions that everyone will find valuable. 

Team Meeting Agenda Items

2Share the meeting agenda 24 hours before the meeting

Send the collaborative agenda to all attendees at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting so everyone has time to review it. When you give others a chance to prepare, you empower the whole group to participate and bring their best ideas to the table. You can even go a step further and ask that your colleagues prepare documents pertaining to specific agenda items in advance of the meeting. 

3Assign clear action items

Action items are documented events, tasks, or activities that need to take place for an individual or group to reach its goals. The purpose of an action item is to keep the team organized and create a sequence of which tasks need to be completed by specific deadlines so projects can move forward. During meetings, assign clear action items to each attendee. Every person should know exactly what they need to do following the meeting and have answers to any initial questions. If it’s helpful for your team, use a project management tool to host all tasks in one place for large projects. 

4Assign meeting roles

Meetings run more smoothly when everyone understands their role. Assigning specific meeting roles ensures that meetings are organized and creates opportunities for everyone’s voice to be heard. Common meeting roles include an organizer, host, notetaker, timekeeper, decision maker, the voice of the customer, optional attendees, and informed participants. The organizer is often the one who schedules the meeting, creates an agenda, and sets objectives and goals for the meeting ahead of time. The host is the individual responsible for keeping the group on track so that all agenda items can be discussed within the allotted timeframe. 

5Cancel meetings with no clear purpose

Sometimes you schedule a meeting and realize moments before it happens that the topic is no longer urgent or meeting worthy. In this scenario, the best thing you can do for yourself and your team is cancel the meeting. For example, if you have a recurring check-in meeting with your direct report about a specific project but have been sending regular updates to one another every day, another meeting may be redundant. Go through your calendar and evaluate and categorize your upcoming meetings as highly important or urgent, somewhat important, or not important. Any meeting that falls under the somewhat or not important categories should be reevaluated and canceled if possible. 

Parting advice

Picture this: You arrive to work on a Monday morning and log onto your computer to review your calendar for the week. For the first time in months, you have plenty of meeting-free time in your day to work on projects that require deep focus. You still have a few meetings in your calendar, but they all serve a clear purpose and are sure to be productive sessions. You feel confident that you’ll be able to complete your deliverables at a higher quality than ever before. 

If you and your team are feeling unproductive at work, it’s time to rethink your meeting habits. Determine what is hindering your productivity and use this knowledge to see how you can best limit unnecessary meeting time for your team and improve workplace productivity.


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About the author

Brier Cook

Brier Cook is a seasoned communications expert with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Carleton University. As an Engagement Strategy Advisor for Carleton University, she leverages creative marketing to address business challenges. Her multifaceted experiences enrich her content, making it both insightful and engaging.

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