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Clockwise analyzed 34 million meetings and here’s what we found

Matt Martin

by Matt Martin on December 4, 2019

At Clockwise, we’ve optimized calendars for thousands of workers at hundreds of companies — from Lyft to Asana to Slack — which puts us in a unique position to understand how people are spending their work time.

By looking at over 34 million calendar events, spanning different industries, job functions, and seniority levels, we’ve discovered that two long-held assumptions about meetings are, in fact, wrong.

Before we dig in, you can see where your own work calendar stands. Today, we’ve launched a new free tool, Calendar Insights, that looks at your meeting schedule to see if your calendar is fully optimized or if there are ways to increase your productivity.

Here are some of the most surprising things we found.

Increasing headcount doesn’t increase meetings

Workers at mid-size organizations have more meetings than workers at small or large companies.

You’d think workers at the biggest companies would attend the most meetings, right? More functions, collaborators, projects and contractors should correlate with more meetings, but we actually found that workers at mid-size organizations have more meetings than workers at small or large companies.

  • Small organizations: 13.9 hours of meetings per week
  • Large businesses: 15.8 hours of meetings per week
  • Midsize companies: 16.2 hours of meetings per week

We define small organizations as having fewer than 1,000 employees, large businesses as having 10,000 or more employees, and midsize companies as everything in-between.

Team syncs & one-on-ones

Breaking down the data further, we found that midsize companies have more recurring internal meetings, like team syncs and one-on-ones in particular, when compared with small or large companies.

  • Small organizations: 4.3 hours of team sync meetings per week
  • Large businesses: 5.6 hours of team sync meetings per week
  • Midsize companies: 6.3 hours of team sync meetings per week

That said, workers at companies of all sizes spend 17% more time in ad-hoc meetings than team syncs and one-on-ones combined, meaning those one-off scheduled meetings are probably what’s consuming most of your time.

Our data shows that the more ad-hoc meetings you have, the more likely you are to be a context switcher, which means you have less time for deep, focused work. This group is likely to only have ten hours dedicated to focused work, compared with 16 per week. Organizers usually schedule ad-hoc meetings in the first available slot without thinking much about anyone’s schedule, but productivity experts like Cal Newport argue “deep work,” large blocks of time when you can focus, are key for maximizing productivity.

Unsurprisingly, job function also has a big impact on your schedule. Which brings us to our next myth.

Sales isn’t the most meeting-heavy role

Software Engineering Managers have more meetings than Salespeople.

The average person is in 14 hours of meetings a week, but this number changes greatly depending on your role. Software Engineering Managers actually have 27% more meetings than Salespeople. Meanwhile, Software Engineers that are individual contributors - meaning, not managers - are on the opposite end of the spectrum and are most likely to fall into the Focused Worker calendar category.

Roles with the most meetings:

  1. Software Engineer (managers)- 17.7 hours
  2. Product Managers - 17.3 hours
  3. Program Managers - 15.5 hours
  4. Recruiters - 15 hours
  5. Operations - 14.5 hours

Roles with the most time for focused work:

  1. Legal - 20.7 hours
  2. Administrators - 19 hours
  3. Software Engineers (individual contributors) - 18.8 hours
  4. Customer Support - 18.4 hours
  5. Marketing - 16.9 hours

Engineering Managers have a particularly heavy meeting-load because they have to meet regularly with a variety of stakeholders, including Product Managers, Program Managers, users for user research, hiring candidates, Designers, and more. Engineering is notoriously difficult to estimate, but these estimates are often required for product and marketing. So having engineering represented early and often in meetings is key to estimating timelines, budgets, etc. And of course managers generally meet with all their direct reports at least bi-weekly.

We hope you’ll visit Calendar Insights and see how you stack up relative to your peers. And to get more Focus Time out of every week (without having to cancel meetings!) try Clockwise. We’re a calendar assistant that intelligently moves your meetings to the times that open up the most Focus Time for everyone on the team.

Matt Martin

Matt Martin

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