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I was intrigued to read new research from Microsoft that found employees report not having enough uninterrupted focus time during the workday. One of the major factors relating to this lack of time was the 192% increase in the number of online meetings and calls held now versus pre-Covid. When I look at my own calendar, I see groups who used to meet once a month or even quarterly, now meeting every month, many even more often. During my typical week I probably have 3 in-person meetings and at least 4 online meetings. That doesn’t include the teaching I often do – online. A large study of over 30,000 employees held in early 2023 found that inefficient meetings are the number one distraction that impacts productivity, and too many meetings is number two.

So, what can we do about meeting fatigue? Several companies have tried meeting free months, selecting one meeting-free day each week, or just shortening the length of meetings. In these cases, productivity and satisfaction increased, and stress levels were reduced.  Another idea is holding walking meetings. Walking meetings allow you to promote a healthy lifestyle while accomplishing work. An bonus benefit, walking meetings are usually shorter! If you want to try a Walking Meeting, here are a few tips:

  • Avoid noisy areas, so everyone can be heard.
  • Consider scheduling your meeting to avoid times when walking routes are busy (at lunch or right after school lets out).
  • Designate or include stops to ensure everyone is ok and to allow slow walkers to be included.
  • Consider note taking – will you record the meeting, or will someone write-up notes later?

While you are taking steps to reduce the number or length of meetings at your workplace, consider that “Happy Workers are More Productive.” Find ways to bring happiness to your workplace like:

  • Listening
  • Celebrating successes, birthdays, work anniversaries, etc.
  • Recognizing contributions of all staff to projects.
  • Leading by example using positivity, smiles, and humor; and avoiding office gossip.
  • Providing healthy treats every once in a while, like fresh fruit or vegetables, dark chocolate, or popcorn.

Consider ways you can cut out a meeting or two and improve the happiness of those with who you spend your time at work.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

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