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Idea Box

Does a meeting-free day mean a fully focused day?

We spend 85% of our time in meetings, and it’s a pain in every way. But collaborative work means we don’t need this constraint any more. Companies are gradually trying to free themselves from meetings, even banning them at least one day a week And everybody is better off that way!

The authors surveyed 76 companies, each with over 1,000 employees, where meetings are prohibited on average for two days a week (equivalent to eradicating 40% of them). Although expected, the results go beyond what we might have imagined:

  • As well as feeling more autonomous and more engaged, employees felt less stress. This alone alleviates many managerial worries, and has a direct impact on productivity, which rose by 71%!
  • While it may seem counterintuitive, collaborative work is easier without meetings. Everyone finds ways to interact with others to suit their own pace and makes the most of collaborative tools.
  • The quality of communication is far higher: everybody can follow the thread of a discussion on an internal communications platform or clear up any ambiguity with an instant message.

But don’t banish meetings altogether! You still need them to coordinate and make sure colleagues have an opportunity for socializing. Three meeting-free days a week produce the best results.

To go further

The surprising impact of meeting-free days

by Ben Laker, Vijay Pereira, Pawan Budhwar and Ashish Malik (MITSloan Management Review, January 18, 2022).

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Florence Meyer
Published by Florence Meyer
Executive coach, change management expert, and author. Constantly on the lookout for the latest management and leadership trends.