The Surprising Effect of Meeting-Free Days

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Even before the pandemic, 71% of managers thought meetings were costly and unproductive. As many companies have shifted to remote and hybrid workplace models, meetings have steadily increased in frequency and length to compensate for the loss of in-person interactions. Today’s knowledge workers spend more than 85% of their time in meetings, which studies show negatively affects people’s psychological, physical and mental well-being.

Although building trust and achieving team cohesion depends on frequent and high-quality interactions, meetings are no longer the best way to achieve this. As a result, many organizations, including Facebook and Atlassian, are taking a stand by adopting no-meeting days, during which people work to their own rhythms and collaborate with others at an appropriate pace and schedule rather than being forced.

Evaluate the effects of non-meeting days

We recently surveyed 76 companies, with more than 1,000 employees each and operating in more than 50 countries, that have submitted one to five days of no meetings per week (preventing even one-on-one meetings) in the past 12 months. In addition, we spoke with managers and the HR manager at each company to get executive perspectives on the approaches involved; Examine data comparing employee stress levels before and after meetings drop; And assess the ex post impact on productivity, collaboration, and engagement using pulse surveys.

Nearly half of the companies we studied (47%) reduced meetings by 40% by dedicating two no-meetings per week. The remaining companies tried something more ambitious: 35% specified three days without meetings, and 11% implemented four. The remaining 7% spent meetings entirely.

The after-effect of introducing meeting-free days was profound, as shown in the table below. When one day without a meeting was introduced per week, autonomy, communication, engagement, and satisfaction improved, resulting in less micromanagement and stress, resulting in higher productivity.

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