Study: How Meeting Preferences Vary by Age, Industry, Location

Unified communications vendor ShoreTel recently conducted a global survey of more than 1,000 people about meeting habits and productivity that dispelled several common beliefs about today’s meetings and how individuals feel about them.

For example, the study, titled “Build a Better Meeting,” shows that millennials participate in meetings in conference rooms with their peers at the same rate as other generations.

However Generation X—those born between 1965 and 1979—are 28 percent more likely than other generations to spend more time in meetings, at more than 9 hours per week.  (According to Clarizen, the average worker spends 9 hours per week preparing for and attending meetings).

The study also proved that the frequency of meetings didn’t depend solely on age. In fact one of the biggest factors was industry. Those in the technology field average 30 hours a week, and enterprises report the most meetings among businesses, while startups report the fewest.

Software startup Pivotal, for example, headquartered in San Francisco, starts every morning with a five-minute all-hands meeting, promptly followed by a 5-10 minute team meeting, and the rest of the day is dedicated to uninterrupted work.

Geography proves to be another notable factor. Respondents in Asia reported the fewest hours spent in meetings each week (57 percent said 0 to 4 hours) while Australians meet the most (45 percent citing 9 or more hours).

Evaluating Productivity

Forty-seven percent of Baby Boomers who took the ShoreTel study said meetings are productive, while 34 percent of Millennials agreed.

Those in Asia (48 percent) and Europe (52 percent) find meetings to be more productive than their counterparts in North America (40 percent).

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they listen and take notes during their meetings.

Nearly every generation came to an agreement on location. Sixty-four percent of Millennials said they’d rather meet in conference rooms versus phoning in or attending remotely, while 65 percent of Gen Xers and 63 percent of Baby Boomers did as well. Surprised? Studies have shown that face-to-face meetings actually spur more creativity and ideas than when meetings are conducted digitally.

Meetings get a bad rap, especially when the conversation is directed at the newest generation of the workforce, who are often said to have smaller attention spans and less of a tendency to embrace face-to-face meetings.

The aspects of meetings may be changing, but most agree that meetings are in fact necessary and productive. The key is to find a balance that is both productive and efficient. It should be a time to update the team, share ideas, set goals and then let your attendees free to go accomplish them.

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