Most Americans Would Rather See Their Doctor Than Go To Business Meetings: Survey

There are other things that employees would rather do than attend virtual or in-person meetings. Going to a doctor’s appointment leads the list at 58%, followed by sitting in traffic (25%) and performing jury duty (17%). That’s according to a new survey of US workers by Deputy, a meeting scheduling software company.

Leading The Pack

Although the average time spent each week in meetings last year was 4.48 hours, the survey found that the actual time varied by the states where the meetings were held.

  • Georgia reported spending the most time, averaging 8.39 hours in work meetings per week.
  • Massachusetts came in second with 7.67 hours per week.
  • Kentucky and Maine rounded out the top five spots at 6.14 and 6.00 hours per week respectively.

The states that reported spending the fewest hours per week in a meeting were Nebraska (2.84), Texas (2.49) and Nevada (2.28).

Deputy surveyed a total of 3,280 respondents, including 2,280 workers across the US with questions related to work meetings and related to the associated stress, duration and preferences, and a supplemental survey of 1,000 respondents. This study ran for two weeks in November 2021 and has a margin of error of 1.8%.

Military Efficiency

Deputy said the industry that claimed to spend the least amount of time per meeting was the military— 100.0% of respondents said meetings averaged 15 minutes or less.

  • Those in agriculture also don’t spend much time in an average meeting, either. Actually, 70.0% said they spent less than an hour.
  • Beating them, though, were food service workers, 80.0% of which said they spend no more than 30 minutes per meeting.

Nearly 45% of legal services workers reported that their meetings can easily last from one to two hours, and a third of law enforcement employees said their average meeting can last over two hours.

Stressful Meetings

Deputy noted that, “Unfortunately, the stress of meetings is real. For many, the dread related to attending work meetings wasn’t just whether or not the meeting was interesting, or how much work was being interrupted. It was actually heavily due to timing, performance anxiety, and social anxiety.”

Americans said these were their top five work meeting stressors:

  • Preparing reports (28.6%)
  • Delivering bad news (23.8%)
  • Participating in discussion (23.7%)
  • Scheduling (13.7%)
  • Making it on time (10.4%)

Meeting Bloat

According to Financial Times, “As employees complain about burnout and grapple with navigating hybrid (a mix of remote and office) work, some employers are trying to cut back on meeting bloat.

“Microsoft reported a 150% t rise in the amount of time an average US worker spent on its Teams platform between September 2019 and September 2020, with a slight uptick the following year. The number of meetings per person also rose, as did meetings outside conventional 9-5 office hours, leading the tech company to conclude that more people have settled into a longer workday.”

Commuting To Work

As much as people would rather do something else than go to meetings, an earlier survey found they also had other preferences than commuting to work.

According to a report released in December by RingCentral, 40% would rather clean their toilet at home than commute to their brick-and-mortar or other pre-pandemic workplace.

Commuting notwithstanding, US workers put other tasks ahead of going to the office full time. More than half of Americans (52%) said they would prefer to wash dishes, visit the dentist (33%), do taxes (30%) or host in-laws (27%). A third said they would leave their jobs if they were forced to return to their offices.

Gunjan Aggarwal is RingCentral’s executive vice president and chief people officer. She observed that, “Although there is a push to get folks back in the office, if organizations are not careful and rock the boat beyond what is acceptable to their employee base, employees are likely to leave their organizations in droves—leading to a massive talent shortage.

“There is no doubt that the future of work will be hybrid but what’s becoming clear is that employees will have a bigger say, than ever before, on what that flexibility and hybrid work means to them and suits their needs. It’s important to listen to them and have an open dialogue,” she advised.

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