In today's hybrid world, meetings can be key to efficiently aligning teams that work on different schedules. However, not all scheduled meetings come to fruition, a concept known as "ghosted" or abandoned meetings. Ghosted meetings are scheduled events in which attendees fail to show up without prior notice and without canceling their space reservation, leading to wasted time and resources.
Today, we will explore data on the prevalence of ghosted meetings, discuss the impact of these unattended meetings on workplace productivity, and share action items that workplace leaders can take to increase meeting attendance and overall efficiency.
Over ⅓ of meetings are ghosted
According to VergeSense data, anonymously collected from over 75M square feet of global enterprise coverage, the global average for ghosted meetings stands at 37%. This means that more than one-third of all scheduled meetings are left unattended, creating a significant impact on employees’ ability to find space to work.
America: In the Americas, the ghosting rate is slightly below the global average at 32%. While this figure is still considerable, it reveals a lower tendency for unattended meetings in this region, which may be due to a cultural phenomenon of Americans feeling less empowered to say “no” to meetings. On average, American employees feel as though they are not needed at 30% of the meetings they attend, yet they often attend because of their “yes" culture.
APAC: The APAC region has the highest ghosting rate at a staggering 56%. Cultural factors may contribute to this high rate, specifically the significance placed on building relationships and socializing within the business culture of numerous countries in the APAC region. Consequently, business discussions frequently take place during meals or drinks rather than in conventional meeting rooms. Therefore, it's important to note that although the meetings may not occur in their original location, they might still take place at a rate similar to the other regions, especially given the value placed on punctuality in many of these cultures.
EMEA: The EMEA region has a ghosting rate of 37%, which is the same as the global average. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that certain regions in EMEA have a business culture opposite to that of America. In these regions, people feel empowered to refuse meetings that they see as unnecessary, resulting in appropriate cancellations. Conversely, if participants consider a meeting unimportant or irrelevant to their work, they might neglect to decline the invitation properly, resulting in some instances of ghosted meetings.
These numbers suggest that the ghosted meeting phenomenon is quite widespread, with over a third of scheduled meetings being abandoned on average, but what is the actual impact of these ghosted meetings?
The impact of ghosted meetings
Resource wastage: Ghosted meetings result in unused meeting rooms, which ties up valuable resources. This prevents others from utilizing the space effectively, leading to inefficiencies in room allocation.
Decreased operational efficiency: When meeting rooms are booked but left vacant due to ghosted meetings, it disrupts the flow of operations. It can create scheduling conflicts, force last-minute rearrangements, and disrupt the overall availability and accessibility of meeting spaces for other teams or individuals.
Increased costs: Unutilized meeting rooms translate into wasted costs. Companies invest in office spaces facilitate collaboration and communication. When these resources go unused, it represents a financial loss, as the expenses associated with maintaining and equipping the meeting rooms are not justified. In fact, wasted spaces can cost organizations over $300,000 per year.
Poor employee experience: When employees are unable to find available meeting spaces due to ghosted meetings, it can cause frustration and hinder their ability to conduct important discussions or hold productive meetings. This can lead to decreased employee satisfaction and a sense of unmet needs within the workplace.
Opportunity costs: Ghosted meetings prevent other productive activities from taking place in the unused time slots. Valuable in-person work time may go unutilized, resulting in missed opportunities for collaboration and joint problem solving, a key benefit of working in-office versus from home.
Reducing ghosted meetings
Schedule meetings strategically: Encourage leaders throughout your organization to strategically plan their meetings for days and times when most employees are in the office. Globally, Tuesdays at 11 am and 2 pm have the highest rate of office usage. This promotes collaboration on common in-office workdays and improves the odds of employees showing up for meetings.
Encourage employee feedback: Regularly seek feedback from employees on the meeting process and how they think it could be improved. This may provide you with ideas and hypotheses on how to refine meeting practices and adapt to the evolving needs of the team. Nonetheless, encouraging people to share their thoughts gives employees a voice and allows them to know that their experience matters.
Investigate the root cause: Understanding the root causes of ghosted meetings can help organizations address the underlying issues and create a more productive meeting culture. Is there a lack of engagement or alignment within a specific team? Is there design or planning-related factors affecting usability? Is our technology stack supporting proper space and room booking practices?
Leverage technology: Utilize tools like the VergeSense Occupancy Intelligence Platform to track meeting room usage and identify patterns of ghosted meetings, as well as automatically release unused booked spaces so other employees can use them. This data can help workplace leaders make informed decisions about how to optimize meeting schedules and improve attendance.
Optimize your most ghosted spaces: With technology and data by your side, you can easily evaluate which specific spaces are being ghosted most and least often. From there, you can identify which characteristics are common between the high and low-performing spaces to then make planning and design decisions to best optimize the spaces for how your employees actually use them.
Level-up your meeting experience
Addressing the issue of ghosted meetings requires a holistic, multifaceted approach that combines space planning and design, employee engagement, and data-driven insights. By utilizing these strategies, workplace leaders can inspire a culture that values efficiency, collaboration, and innovation. In doing so, organizations can unlock the full potential of their teams and create a purposeful, productive workplace.