October 26th, 2016

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One of Julie’s phone calls is running way longer than planned, and Doug’s brother needs his help with a family emergency. Zach went home with a migraine. Too bad there was a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. and they’re all going to miss it. Hey, no-show meetings happen. It’s not a big deal, right?

Wrong. According to our exclusive workplace productivity data, more than a third of scheduled meetings (34%) end up as no-shows. On average, 25% of employees schedule a meeting each month that goes unattended.

As we see it, there are two types of no-show meetings: Ghost and Zombie Meetings®.

Are your conference rooms haunted by ghost and Zombie Meetings®?

Ghost meetings are standalone occurrences. They happen when a combination of circumstances keep people from attending a one-off meeting. They’re more common than their walking dead cousins; ghost meetings make up 80% of no-show meetings.

Zombie Meetings, on the other hand, are recurring meetings. Think of your work calendar. You probably have regular 1:1 meetings scheduled with your supervisor, a weekly or biweekly meeting with your own team, and maybe a cross-departmental meeting during the first week of every month, to keep everyone on the same page. Those are the types of meetings that can turn into the walking dead — hence the name "Zombie Meetings". They doggedly reappear on the calendar but no one pays any attention.

The problem with ghost and Zombie Meetings

There’s a reason we gave these two types of no-show meetings such creepy names: When you start digging into their effects on office productivity, the impact ghost and zombie meetings can have is pretty scary.

First, there’s the cultural aspect. Whether it’s a matter of having too many no-shows or consistently starting late, bad meeting behavior has a psychological effect on employees. They feel frustrated because their time is being wasted, whether it’s time spent preparing for a Zombie Meeting that never happened or precious minutes burned up while sitting in the conference room, waiting for everyone to arrive.

Many meeting productivity experts have written about the importance of improving meeting behavior. (We’ve written about it ourselves, in fact.) But what’s often overlooked is the room reservation that accompanies most meetings.

If your company uses any type of conference room reservation tool in conjunction with its meeting scheduling software, there’s a good chance that ghost and Zombie Meetings are making the conference room spaces in your office appear to be in higher demand than they actually are.

Have you ever gone to book your favorite conference room on the company calendar and found that it was unavailable for the time you needed it, but when you walked by later, there was no one in there? It’s probably being haunted by a ghost or Zombie Meeting.

Teem-Global_Zombie_Meetings-Infographic-1

Teem data shows that no-show meetings waste an average of 27 room hours each month — and that’s just for one room. If your office has 10 conference rooms or 100 … well, you get the picture. The point is that ghost and Zombie Meetings waste time and prevent you from maximizing your space utilization.

Get rid of ghost and Zombie Meetings

When companies first realize that valuable conference room space is being taken up by ghost and Zombie Meetings that aren’t even really happening, the first move is often to request that employees cancel meetings on the shared calendar when they have to miss them.

It’s a valid request, but let’s face it: When your kid is sick or you’re under a crushing project deadline — the kinds of things that make people miss meetings in the first place — you might not have the presence of mind to remember to cancel a meeting on your calendar.

And because many calendar systems only allow the meeting organizer to cancel a meeting, even if your coworker realizes you’ve run out of the office like your tail was on fire, they can’t cancel the meeting for you. That's often how ghost and Zombie meetings get started.

That’s why the digital conference room display’s check-in feature is such a popular feature with our customers. Once activated, it shows a countdown screen for each scheduled meeting. Any of the meeting attendees can tap “start meeting” on the screen to stop the countdown. If no one checks into the meeting within the designated time frame — say, 10 minutes before and after the scheduled start time — the meeting room reservation is automatically canceled. This frees up the room so that others can utilize the space.

Simply by turning on this feature from their Teem admin dashboard, companies have been able to recoup an average of 15% of meeting room hours that would otherwise be wasted.

So that takes care of ghost meetings. But what about Zombie Meetings? Zombie Meetings are not as common as ghost meetings, but they’re harder to squash because they keep cropping up, making rooms look full when they’re really not. They keep employees from scheduling other meetings in the space — meetings that are needed to keep their projects moving forward.

Our zombie killer feature makes it easy to put an end to Zombie Meetings. It allows company administrators to choose how many times a recurring meeting can be missed before the series of meetings are canceled. Once check-in has failed for the set number of consecutive occurrences, Teem removes the room from the recurring meeting series. Goodbye Zombie Meetings.

No-show meetings, AKA ghost and Zombie Meetings, prey on offices all over the world, every day. Don’t let your office be one of them. Get the tools you need to defend yourself  and your coworkers from these monstrously inefficient meetings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Moulton

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