Busy CEOs spend one day every week managing communications

May 28 2014, 19:00 IST
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Bain's research finds that 15 per cent of an organisation's collective time is spent in meetings Bain's research finds that 15 per cent of an organisation's collective time is spent in meetings
SummaryBain's research finds that 15 per cent of an organisation's collective time is spent in meetings

Top executives lose thousands of hours each year responding to emails and sitting in unproductive meetings as companies do not track and monitor the time lost, according to a research by an American firm.

Bain & Company studied and calculated the losses in time and money and compiled a list of best practices companies can follow to fight time management's "Eight Deadly Sins".

Bain is an American global management consulting firm headquartered in Boston. The firm provides advisory services to many of the world's largest businesses, nonprofit organisations and governments.

Bain's research finds that 15 per cent of an organisation's collective time is spent in meetings, a number that has increased steadily since 2008.

The losses snowball through the organisations because firms do not track and monitor employee time as tightly as any other resource, such as capital.

One company's weekly senior leadership meeting directly consumed 7,000 hours per year for the attendees - but 300,000 hours companywide among subordinates in preparation and related meetings.

Yet most companies have no ability to quantify how their executives and other employees spend their time because they do not track and measure it.

"Most time management advice focuses on individual actions - be choosy with meetings, rein in your email box," said Michael Mankins, leader of Bain's Organisation Practice in the America, who led the survey and report.

"But this advice sometimes goes against your company's culture: Ignore emails and meeting invitations and you risk alienating your colleagues - or your boss," Mankins said.

Bain teamed with VoloMetrix, an enterprise analytics company, to examine the time budgets of 17 large corporations.

According to the report, executives today on average receive 30,000 external communications per year, up from 1,000 in the 1970s.

At the current rate, executives will soon spend more than one day each week managing electronic communications. Senior executives on an average devote more than two days each week to meetings with three or more coworkers.

A meeting that starts just five minutes late costs a company eight per cent of that meeting - a loss that would be untenable in any other resource category.

At one company, about 1 in 5 meeting participants sent an average of three or more emails for every 30 minutes of meeting time. At a sample 10,000-employee business, USD 60 million - 20 per cent of the total cost of meetings was squandered in unproductive activity.

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