By Zach Holmquist
Halloween is behind us, along with our collective obsession with the scary and spooky. And while zombies and ghosts are no longer in season, they are still making a big impact in our everyday lives.
These terrifying beings may be fictitious in one sense, but they’re very real in another … and are a detriment to workplace productivity across virtually every industry. Often overlooked (but very significant) in the workplace are “ghost meetings” and “zombie meetings.”
According to my meeting room analytics company Teem, 21 percent of the employees surveyed have scheduled one-off meetings scheduled by co-workers that people fail to show up for, otherwise known as ghost meetings.
Zombie meetings, on the other hand, (aka scheduled recurring meetings that often result in employees not attending several times in a row), can be traced back to four percent of meeting organizers. This could be a result of anything from the meeting host no longer working at the company to rescheduling the meeting without canceling the initial room reservation.
The percentages may not seem high at first glance, but the results of these meetings can be damaging. In fact, the combination of zombie and ghost meetings can equate to up to 30 hours of wasted productivity each month. A lack of productivity ultimately costs a business time, money, and overall efficiency. This loss only compounds over time and for small businesses, every little bit counts.
Employees may not be aware of the term “ghost” and “zombie” meetings, but it’s almost certain that are familiar with these frustrating scenarios. Despite viewing ghost and zombie meetings as a problem, they don’t know who they can turn to in order to resolve it. Should this be reported to the office manager. Or is it an overall HR issue? Often times, the problem is seen as one that requires an immediate solution. An employee may not necessarily be concerned about creating a better workplace in such a moment of frustration. All they’re concerned about is where they can find a room to meet – and quickly.
As Chief of Workplace Experience, my job is to help enhance … well … the overall workplace experience. I believe that the key to a better experience comes in three important elements: People, places and technology. So what steps can we take using these three elements to kill off these zombie and ghost meetings for good to create a better experience in the workplace?
It’s important to establish a good culture at work and for smaller businesses especially, culture is the backbone of the operation. Usually, when we talk about work culture, we’re talking more about trust. When there’s a lack of structure in using meeting spaces in the office, unintentional distrust could be brewing, which could turn into massive repercussions. If you’ve ever seen employees argue over meeting rooms, then you’ve witnessed a culture of contention and distrust that was unintentional. Such arguments take focus away from what really matters.
Building trust in the office means having open communication and organization when it comes to reserving meeting spaces. It may seem simple, but often difficult to enforce when you need everyone in the office to buy in.
When it comes to places, I’m not talking about finding another company to work for. You might found the same workplace experience problems there anyway. Here, I’m talking about being open to additional meeting rooms in your office. You may think you’re doing that already, but is there a particular room that you favor over others because there’s better technology or furniture available in that room? Or perhaps that room is closest to your desk?
For whatever reason, employees often stick to within a certain radius or set of preferences when it comes to where they work. They like to stick to just one or two rooms that they’re familiar with, without really venturing out to other options. Leveraging the entire office could help maximize the use of all meeting room spaces – and could also minimize the possibility of additional ghost and zombie meetings. It sounds simple, but this aspect is so often overlooked.
From a technology standpoint, the first two steps can be done with the help of an effective meeting room analytics solution. Teem’s technology, for example, can keep businesses organized with proper scheduling for meetings. In addition, Teem’s analytics solutions includes a “zombie killer” feature, where we can actively monitor a company’s recurring meetings for which attendees are failing to check in on the room display. Once a recurring meeting has failed to check in for a specified number of consecutive occurrences, Teem removes the room from the recurring meeting series. This kills the zombie and frees up that resource for the rest of the organization.
So what have learned? The scary reality for businesses can actually be solved. By putting emphasis on the use of people, places and technology, zombie and ghost meetings can be killed, no matter how grueling the task may seem.
By Zach Holmquist, Co-founder and Chief of Workplace Experience, Teem (@zholmquist)