Many companies have adopted a remote or hybrid work schedule over recent years, allowing the average worker to achieve a better work-life balance. However, to make up for the loss of face-to-face time, these same companies may implement frequent meetings throughout the week.
While it may seem like a natural solution, studies show that unnecessary meetings actually decrease productivity and autonomy. (Think: This meeting could've been an email.) This is where no meeting days — days without any scheduled internal meetings — come into play.
How Much Time in Meetings Do Employees Spend on Average?
Research shows that employees spend a whopping 31 hours each month in meetings. That's almost an entire week of work for full-time employees. While meetings can be an important tool, especially for social interaction, in-depth discussions, and brainstorming, about 50% of these hours are considered to be unproductive meetings.
Employees say that meetings are often too long and are a waste of time since they disrupt their day’s workflow. Constant interruptions like frequent meetings cause workers to lose focus or momentum, making them feel less autonomous.
Looking at the week or day calendar filled with endless meetings can also make people feel stressed or micromanaged.
The Impact That Uninterrupted Time Has on Hybrid Work and Culture
To address this problem, companies around the world are implementing no meeting days into the weekly schedule — some with just one day a week and others banning meetings altogether. The results prove that having planned days or just one day without meetings benefits workers.
With less meeting fatigue, workers have more time to work at their own rhythms and fall into a deep focus. When the number of meetings (especially the unnecessary ones) decreases, employee attendance also increases at the more important, infrequent meetings.
Increased Productivity and Reduced Stress
Recent studies also highlight that 70% of meetings actually cause employees to lose focus time and distract them from the tasks at hand.
Companies can choose how many days per week they want to enforce no meeting days and what it means. Some completely ban meetings for those days, while others allow outside meetings with clients or customers.
Employers noticed a boost in productivity when the number of meetings was reduced by 40%. Workers didn’t suffer from employee burnout over video or live meetings and were allowed to complete their tasks without interruption. In fact, productivity was more than 70% higher since employees were in control of their schedules, leading to more effective time management.
This helps reduce stress and employees feel more self-sufficient and empowered.
Improved Communication and Autonomy
While you might think that fewer meetings means less communication, that’s not the case. When companies stop scheduling meetings, employees have the opportunity to find better ways to connect and communicate.
Thanks to technologies such as Slack, Teams, and ClickUp, cross-functional teams have various tools at their disposal. Tools like these give employees a little breathing room when it comes to response time and allow them to stay connected from anywhere at any time.
Employees want to engage more with their company and team when they have more autonomy and less stress. They feel like they are valued and are not being micromanaged, so the positive feelings cause 44% of employees to work harder than they would when they have more forced meetings. Communication was clearer and more direct, and there were also fewer miscommunications since employees could simply refer back to team emails or chats.
How Many Meeting-Free Days Should You Implement Per Week?
Employers note that daily meetings strain their employees. They're also a financial drain when factoring in the lost productivity. The magic number of meeting-free days can vary depending on the nature of your business, but many experts recognize that implementing three each week could work for most.
During those three days, employees can focus on their tasks and projects without interruption or blocking time in their schedules for meetings. Two days a week are left open for team meetings and collaboration. This allows your employees to interact naturally while also allowing them time to sync up schedules if needed.
Be sure to communicate your ideas about meeting-free days with your employees beforehand. This way, you can get feedback and ensure everyone is on the same page. After trying it out for a few weeks, you can reassess to determine if you have the correct number of meeting-free days and check in with your team.