Are Meetings Useless? Three Reasons Why It’s The Case

For many years, meetings have become a traditional part of the workplace. They’re something that companies take for granted. But more recently, are meetings spent wisely as they used to be? Or are meetings useless? They have been more questionable lately, and they’ll continue to be. In this post, we’ll go over if that’s still the case.

Are meetings becoming more of a waste of time?

Some people would agree that their time is being taken away due to meetings. Valuable time is being lost to meetings if they last longer than usual.

Based on one recent study, the results showed that meetings are certainly a waste of time. This study outlined the negative aspects of meetings, and how it impacted productivity.

On the other hand, things such as micromanaging decreased, along with lower stress levels for employees. So there are some good things that came out of this study.

Are meetings useless: This post discusses whether meetings are useless, and if they’re really a waste of time for everyone.

The idea of reduced meetings had a positive effect for many people. If that may be the case in a lot of workplaces, maybe it’s something to follow up on in the future.

For the remainder of this post, I will lay out three reasons why meetings have turned into productivity killers more recently.

Meetings reduce efficiency

A lot of things that take place in meetings can be done through other methods. I can attest to that based on my experience sitting in meetings.

For instance, some topics can be discussed in a brief five-ten minute phone call. If they can be covered in a few minutes, set some time to go over what needs to be discussed.

Are meetings useless: The time spent in meetings can reduce efficiency if they’re not planned out ahead of time.

Also, I think distributing email announcements can be a better way to communicate with staff members. People can read them on their own time, without having to sit in long meetings.

Even people such as Elon Musk are not fans of meetings. Musk thinks they’re detrimental to time management and overall productivity.

Here’s what Musk had to say about walking out of useless meetings  a year ago:

“Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”

Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla)

Out of necessity (it’s part of a common routine)

As mentioned earlier, it’s part of the status quo (seems that it’s always been that way). Meetings tend to be a terrible way to fill up (or kill) time at the least.

But as the workplace continues to evolve, that’s not how it works. I think more people are realizing that meetings are not always necessary.

Are meetings useless: Out of necessity, holding meetings seems to be part of a normal routine for a lot of people at work.

Rather than have one-hour meetings every day, why not cut it back to one day? Or even better, maybe a half-hour weekly meeting would be better.

At one place I worked at, we usually would have five minute huddles every day. I thought that was nice to have, especially if they were brief and got straight to the point.

Will there be fewer meetings in the future?

After reviewing the downsides of meetings, we might think there are fewer meetings. Based on where the world is at today, I’m not too optimistic about this issue changing anytime soon.

Some reasons include the things I mentioned earlier. I think it’s common for people to not do real work when meetings take place. It’s something I’ve learned and understood very well in meetings I’ve sat in.

At some point in the future, I do believe that will change. As the workplace goes through a transition over the next decade, more people will understand why. There will be less of a need for meetings to take place.

Are meetings useless: Meetings can make people put off doing important work and waste valuable time.

What I’ve observed in my experience

As I brought up earlier, I saw no value in holding meetings most of the time. It’s evident that no one leaves the meetings feeling inspired or like they learned something new.

That definitely was not the case when I observed people in these meetings. I wish that were the case, but it never is.

What can be done about meetings?

Simply put, the best solution is to have fewer meetings. Whether that’s brief huddles, or having a meeting once a week, these can be good short-term solutions.

In the long-run, it remains to be seen how people will communicate. Virtual meetings are helpful, but they have problems that relate to in-person meetings. So there are still some issues in that matter.

Hopefully the future holds better things for the workplace, whatever it is. Perhaps meetings won’t change much in the future. The change of how workplaces conduct business depends on whether they want it or not.

Are meetings useless: For the most part, meetings can be a waste of time and not worth it.

Final Words

Going back to the question if meetings are useless, well they definitely can be. If they’re not used properly, then meetings can be a waste of time for sure.

I’m not saying meetings are bad; however, it appears to be a common problem in the workplace. No matter if it’s the office or a virtual meeting (e.g. via Zoom), problems can arise.

Whatever happens moving forward, hopefully the way meetings are structured will change at some point. Everyone’s time should be valued: If it’s not well spent in meetings, then that needs to be reevaluated. We’ll see how that goes.

Your Turn: Do you think meetings at work are pointless?

I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. Do you think meetings serve a good purpose at work?

Do you find meetings to be a valuable use of your time? If not, what don’t you like about meetings? Could you do without them entirely?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is the owner and chief editor of notimekillers.com. 

He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. 

Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” 

In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. 

You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.

Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

4 thoughts on “Are Meetings Useless? Three Reasons Why It’s The Case”

  1. Over the years that I have worked, many of the meetings that I attended were actually a waste of time. Or it could have been completed in less than half the time that we were in the meeting. Meetings can be productive if there is a strict schedule that is kept to, and it is very useful if a time limit is set, and stuck, that time is not wasted. 

    Smaller meetings I have found are more productive, and Zoom meetings can save travel time, but the same principles need to be applied to virtual meetings, as to real meetings.

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Meetings can help sometimes, but they can be huge time wasters as well. How we use them can help immensely, but there’s never a plan set in place.

      I think planning can help sometimes, so it’s important to do that regularly. If we stick to an agenda, then it’s much easier to coordinate meetings that are productive and meaningful.

      As you mentioned, meetings should be set up whether in-person or virtually. There may be some differences between the two, but the same guidelines still exist.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- they’re greatly appreciated.

      Reply
  2. When I worked in corporate I hated these meetings. I managed a region and had lots of responsibilities including visiting branches, stakeholders and staff. 

    What I detested was internal meetings at our head office, which took me away from my functions. I felt it was topics that could be dealt with by another manner and not by holding everyone captive in a boardroom or Microsoft Teams call for hours on end. 

    Scrap it all I say its time wasters of note!

    Reply
    • Hi Janine,

      Sitting in meetings in the corporate environment is not the most exciting thing to do. It seems that a lot of people do not like these types of meetings, and for very good reasons.

      One of those reasons is they tend to last for a long time. Especially if it can be time dedicated to doing more valuable work, and more meaningful as well.

      It does not benefit anyone when the meetings last longer than usual. If meetings were shorter, I think it would be far much better for everyone. Who knows, maybe everyone would be far more productive as well.

      Thank you very much for sharing your insights. I know those days were not fun, but they are good lessons to learn overtime.

      Thank you again- your thoughts are very much appreciated.

      Reply

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