Originally Published August 2016
Updated August 2021

Time is money.

So, how much time and money do your employees spend in meetings? Chances are, it’s more than you think.

According to research conducted by management consultants Bain & Company, back in 2017 about 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has risen to record heights. A 2021 study by Small Business Trends shows that the number of daily meetings increased by 26% in 2020, from 3.36 meetings a day in 2019 to 4.24 meetings a day in 2020. The average time of each meeting was 2 hours 14 minutes, equating to 24 full days a year.

With many of us continuing to work in remote and hybrid environments, it’s unlikely we’re going to see the end to these numbers anytime soon. All the more reason to take steps now to improve productivity and efficiency. Unified Communications (UC), whether in the cloud or on-premise, makes collaboration simpler and faster by eliminating the complexity and problems associated with disconnected devices and technologies.

The end result? You spend less time trying to get things to work and more time working together.

Every Minute Counts

How often have you led or participated in a conference call that was delayed because another participant didn’t have the correct dial-in information or had difficulty viewing the presenter’s shared desktop?

Perhaps only four or five minutes was lost, but that small amount of time carries a significant cost. For example, in a meeting of six people earning $90,000 a year (salary plus benefits), a five-minute delay will cost $79. While that may not seem like much, the same scenario playing out once a day across organization will amounts to $20,000 a year – or about 22% of one attendee’s annual compensation.

With UC, keeping meetings on time, productive and cost-effective becomes naturally embedded in your workplace culture.

Six Ways UC Can Improve Meeting Efficiency and Effectiveness:

1. Join with a single click.

With UC, employees don’t need to enter dial-in numbers or passcodes. A click of a button gets them directly into the web, video or audio conference.

2. Work from any device or location.

One of the biggest obstacles to a prompt start is the use of different devices to join a conference call. Incompatibility inevitably leads to hiccups – plug-ins need to be downloaded at the last moment or the meeting app isn’t available on a particular platform. UC can eliminate such roadblocks because it’s designed to work across all iPhones, Android devices and both Mac and Windows platforms. It also provides contact center abilities, a step up from call center software, to diversify communication both internally and with your customers. 

3. Use an agenda to stay on track.

What’s the top piece of advice for having a productive meeting? Create an agenda and stick to it. This sets clear expectations about what will be accomplished and acts as a guide for keeping the meeting running efficiently. UC can help you stay on target by tracking the amount of time spent on each topic.

4. Share ideas – visually.

One way to help facilitate understanding is to use visual presentations. When others can see your screen, you can more easily convey your ideas. Cut down on the amount of time spent explaining and increase comprehension in the process. Screen sharing also facilitates collaboration, making meetings highly productive.

5. Control side conversations.

UC can help you keep the conversation on track via a group messaging feature that enables attendees to comment without interrupting the meeting. Feedback is discussed only after the presenter has finished, a far more efficient method than constant interruptions. Plus, by capturing questions in a conversation pane, the speaker can prioritize and address them in a logical manner.

6. Record, share and save time.

Another efficiency driver is the ability to record your meeting. It can be used for reference, especially if key decisions need to be revisited. And if a key player missed the meeting, he or she can get up to speed without impacting fellow team members’ time.

If a team can save just five minutes a day by using these features, organizations can shave hours of wasted time each month. The numbers are compelling because time is money; they validate the need evaluate cost-saving opportunities within options for new business phone systems. With solid and well-managed UC tools at their fingertips, your employees can better focus on what really matters – working together to get the job done.

Loffler's Guide to Unified Communications [Free Download]

Read More: Unified Communications: All Your Communications Tools in One Fully-Unified Platform

Joe Dashow

Joe is the Executive Vice President of ITSG at Loffler Companies, and has been part of the Loffler IT leadership team since 2015. He has a deep background in enterprise software with experience spanning the areas of Unified Communications, Workflow Automation, Contact Center, Collaboration and ERP/SCM/WFM. A little known fact? Joe used to be the drummer in a blues band called the Electric Trane.

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