Virtual Meetings on the Rise, but Value Is Still Debatable

Late start times were cited as a key reason that meetings are perceived to fail to deliver value and are costing executives nearly three hours a week.

virtual meetings and mobile devices

More than half of workers surveyed by LogMeIn and Ovum are seeing an increase in the sheer number of meetings they are expected to attend, with two-thirds of these workers indicating that at least half of those meetings are not of value.

Among the key findings were that virtual meetings–collaboration sessions where one or more participants attend via teleconferencing and/or Web conferencing–now account for more than 30 percent of all meetings.

The survey also revealed employees are having more meetings than ever before, with 91 percent of all employees surveyed saying that the number of meetings they are having is either static or rising.

Late start times were cited as a key reason that meetings are perceived to fail to deliver value and are costing executives nearly three hours a week–five and a half days per year--in lost time and productivity.

Meetings are increasing because, in general, workplaces are encouraging collaboration–between individual, teams, divisions and locations, Craig Daniel, vice president of collaboration products at LogMeIn, told eWEEK, noting there has been a dramatic increase of tablets and smartphones replacing PCs as the virtual meeting tool of choice.

"We found that 55 percent of workers are using smart devices to share documents and visuals with other people in the meeting as an alternative to using a projector or monitor," Daniel explained. "Also, the growing number of cloud apps being brought into the workplace means this personal choice isn’t just limited to hardware."

The survey found more than 60 percent of workers are taking laptops, nearly 50 percent are taking smartphones and almost 30 percent are taking tablets into in-person, face-to-face meetings.

With the evolving needs for meetings, 66 percent of corporate buyers report that they are actively looking for new collaboration solutions to replace traditional Web conferencing tools, the report noted.

More than 40 percent cite a better user experience as a primary driver, by far the biggest factor in their consideration.

"Nobody will admit to liking meetings, but most people will acknowledge that they serve a purpose," Daniel said. "Many meetings are a waste of time, but every now and then, with the right attendees and the right tools, we come away from one saying, ‘That was a good meeting’."

Like them or not, employees better be prepared to get called into a meeting with little or no notice-- across all meeting types, 37 percent of meetings are ad hoc and unscheduled, the report found.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of workers report a rise in these types of meetings over the past 2 years.

"Unfortunately, the research did not explore whether mobile meetings were more productive or if mobile devices made meetings more productive or a distraction," Daniel noted. "However, we did learn that people are bringing more of these devices into in-person meetings and that the availability of them facilitates more remote meetings."