New data from meetings technology providers Synergy SKY reveals 10% of workers are regularly booking fake meetings into their diary to keep colleagues thinking they are busier than they really are.
The study conducted by Synergy SKY, who's meeting technology Synergy of Things tracks almost every possible conference call metric including ‘no-show detection’, allowing managers to see stats on meeting attendance, reveals the average UK worker that books fake meetings is clocking up some three hours per week or over 150 hours a year in ‘fake meeting time’. That works out at just over a whole month of deliberately wasted meeting resources and time per year.
The study, which analysed over 2500 meetings conducted via its software in 2019, was able to identify clusters of repeat meeting behaviour and it was on this basis Synergy SKY decided to conduct this study and uncover the truth.
Vemun Waksvik, Synergy SKY vice president of marketing, commented, “Meetings are one of the biggest issues businesses have. Many people hate them, lots of people don’t want to be in them and you can’t read a business publication without seeing a dozen articles on how to be more efficient in them. They are the lifeblood of business, that’s an inescapable fact. The need for fast, seamlessly integrated and accountable communications is often a concern that’s only prioritised once businesses start requiring a significant time spent on multi-person conference calls. Our software allows complete transparency into the what, when, where and who of meetings and it is this insight that's allowed us to spot these repeated and somewhat suspect trends”.
Synergy SKY’s products Synergy Analyze and Synergy of Things were able to analyse over 2500 meetings and look at how many meetings were being booked but nobody was attending, as the software tracks physical attendance through motion detection in meeting conference rooms and seamlessly synchronises with users’ personal calendars, therefore allowing more insight into meeting events and workers’ schedules.
While everyone appreciates that meetings get moved or cancelled frequently depending on various factors, it’s when workers repeatedly book meetings that nobody is attending that raises the question ‘why?’
The research reveals that 32% of the meetings it suspects are fakes are due to employees booking out their calendar and meeting rooms on a regular basis to appear to be busy, or simply blocking out their time and resources so other people cannot take it, thus avoiding work or other meetings entirely. Synergy’s motion detection technology can tell these meetings are not taking place as nobody is physically present. The tracking by Synergy SKY is not able to tell exactly what workers regularly exhibiting this suspicious behaviour are actually doing, but it does make you wonder when colleagues are regularly vanishing for ‘meetings’.
Another method of time wasting and fake meetings Synergy SKY has been able to identify is meetings that are regularly block booked for a set period but the meeting frequently ends earlier than the time allocated. Some 46% of meeting rooms analysed that routinely ended on average some 30 minutes before their allocated end time were still in use by at least one attendee for the full meeting booking time.
The final major indicator of potentially fake meetings in the workplace that Synergy SKY investigated is where more than one employee is booked on conference calls that take place less than 30% of the time scheduled. Some 22% of the meetings Synergy SKY thinks are potentially fakes are involving more than two employees in the same firm. This has multiplied cost implications for employers.
Waksvik also said: “Time wasting, worker productivity and ensuring expensive meeting resources are being used efficiently and correctly is obviously a major concern for employers given the huge costs of wages and commercial real estate. However, the ‘Internet of Things’ is enabling ways of connecting devices and data like never before and the people using these devices are part of that data set. That said, our system Synergy of Things does not actually flag this potentially suspicious behaviour to account administrators due to privacy concerns some workers might have. Our systems are built to monitor efficient usage of business facilities and equipment with the goal of allowing employers to better optimise the extremely expensive real estate that is provided expressly for meetings. If we can help employers cut down on wasted resources and increase productivity, then we achieve our goals.”
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