human hand in shadows
Ghost meetings waste countless hours in the workplace. PHOTO: tertia van rensburg

Think how much you could get done every day if you could avoid the pain, the anguish, the thought terminating drain of Yet Another Meeting.

Say, "nothing kills productivity more than an onslaught of inefficient meetings during the workday" — and odds are no one will argue.

So. Much. Wasted. Time.

Just recently, the experts at Teem, a Salt Lake City-based provider of meeting room management, released some tips on how to exorcise “Zombie” and “Ghost” meetings — scheduled meetings no one attends.

These meetings account for 34 percent of scheduled meetings globally, and waste an average of 27 hours per room, per month, according to Teem's Workplace Productivity Analytics Index. The index is an interactive resource that benchmarks trends and best practices in collaboration.

Zombie and ghosts and vampires are enticing concepts to ponder, especially in light of a curiously haunting study yesterday about teen blood and aging mice.

According to New Scientist, scientists at the blood and anti-aging research company Alkahest found blood plasma from young people improved older mice’s memory and cognition, and led to increased physical activity. The researchers came up with the idea to inject human blood into the mice after seeing promising results from an earlier study … or maybe an old Bela Lugosi movie.

Or maybe after seeing how easy it would be to siphon blood from just about anyone who routinely succumbs to the comatose state induced by a long, unproductive meeting.

'I Want to Suck Your Blood Time'

So let's pause a minute and define some terms.

  • Ghost Meetings are standalone occurrences. They happen when a combination of circumstances keep people from attending a one-off meeting and make up 80 percent of no-show meetings
  • Zombie meetings are recurring meetings on the calendar with a conference room or meeting space booked, but no one ever attends them or takes the action of canceling them

As CMSWire reporter Dom Nicastro wrote earlier this year, "My favorite meetings are canceled meetings." So let's make that a reality. Here is some advice from Teem.

Death to the Boardroom: Replace your boardroom with smaller huddle rooms or "war" rooms. Having a number of private meeting areas enables ad hoc collaboration and eliminates some of the tension caused by an overbooked boardroom.

The Witching Hour (for meeting): By using analytic tools or even a simple survey of employees, you can more effectively schedule your meetings. The goal is to wrap the meetings around rush hours or periods of heavy workloads so participants are more willing to attend and focused when they arrive.

Vanquish Zombie Meeting: Aggressively track responses and verify expected attendance before each meeting. If key participants are unable to attend, cancel or reschedule the meeting.

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