According to the conference call provider: “The average businessperson attends 207 meetings a year, amounting to 636 hours lost sitting through face-to-face meetings, as well as the equivalent of five working days spent just travelling to meetings.”
Counting the cost
The average meeting of six business people costs almost £400, but this figure would of course be significantly higher for big earners at large law firms.
And having to waste time travelling to and from meetings can be highly frustrating. Some 20 per cent of attendees resented having their time wasted in this way, claimed Powwownow, while almost half get less work done on days when they have to leave the office to journey to meetings, with 15 per cent forced to work after hours to make up for time spent travelling.
The problem wouldn’t be so bad if all meetings were productive. In 2013 Management Today reported the rather depressing claim that “UK workers waste a year of their lives in useless meetings”. This it equated to four hours of pointless meetings every week – the equivalent of watching 1939 Hollywood epic, Gone With the Wind, it noted dryly.
Research from Epson and the CEBR concluded that workers waste two hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week, at an eye-watering cost to UK businesses of some £26bn a year. If these wasted hours were spent productively, said the report, it would equate to 13 million more productive hours per week and an annual increase in UK GDP of about 1.7 per cent.
Skype for Business
Face-to-face meetings are unavoidable in many cases, of course, and you just have to accept the associated costs and travel time. However, modern online communications technology may provide a solution to less essential gatherings.
Skype for Business is one example. Launched in 2003 and acquired by Microsoft in 2011, software application Skype is reported to have more than 300 million users worldwide – you may already be one of them. Skype allows users to communicate by voice, video or online instant messaging, and business conference calls can also be set up.
Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but Skype calls to landline phones and mobiles using traditional telephone networks are charged via a debit-based user account system. Skype can be downloaded free to use on Microsoft Windows, Mac or Linux systems, as well as Android, Blackberry, iOS and Windows smart phones and tablets.
For larger law firms, Skype for Business is recommended, because it “lets you add up to 250 people to online meetings, gives you enterprise-grade security, allows you to manage employee accounts and is integrated into your Office apps.” This means your people could also use it to collaborate on work shared directly from Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.
It costs from £1.30 per month per user and even those who haven’t signed up to Skype for Business (which could include your clients) can attend online meetings, as long as they have a telephone or internet connection. Even job interviews are now taking place via Skype, which could reduce your HR budget. The Skype blog offer tips on Skype conference calls and Skype meetings, you can even use the Skype Translator when communicating with non-English speaking contacts.
Potentially offering the chance to reduce meeting-related costs, save time, increase productivity and decrease your carbon footprint, perhaps it’s time your law firm considered using Skype for Business.