Many businesses both in Victoria and across Australia are changing the way they work. Office spaces are changing, attitudes to staff well-being are changing, there’s a growing consensus on creating a better balance between home and office life…the list goes on. However, anyone doing a search online “meeting room hire in Melbourne CBD” knows one thing hasn’t changed: we are still obsessed with having meetings, and the more the better.

But the sad thing is that so many of the meetings we attend are actually just sources of frustration because they are largely unnecessary. If you feel this describes your own workplace, then here are some tips on reducing the number of unnecessary meetings.

1. Schedule Meetings as Genuine Need Arises

It’s quite common for companies to hold regular scheduled meetings, perhaps once a week or once a fortnight where all members of a department will come together to discuss the business of that week, resolve issues, and more. It’s a solid practice, and in many cases it works well, but if you’re looking to radically change your company’s meeting culture, then getting away from this could be a good start.

Instead, why not try scheduling meetings only as and when the need for one comes up. Such needs could be complaints from clients, a conflict arising between departments or individuals at the office, the need to inform staff on new procedures and policies, and so on. These things don’t happen every single week, so the need for fixed scheduled meetings isn’t always there.

2. No Agenda, No Meeting

Those who do maintain regular meeting times, such as weekly staff meetings, should keep a rule that says that if there’s no specific agenda, then there’s no meeting. Giving people back some of their work time is always a nice bonus. Therefore, for those scheduled meetings that do endure, make it a requirement for them to happen that there must be at least one significant and worthwhile thing on the agenda to have that meeting this week.

3. Get More Done in Fewer, Longer Meetings

Making meetings longer in order to “reduce” meeting times may seem like a strange move, but in fact it makes perfect sense. Compacting all of your meeting requirements into a smaller overall number of meetings will most likely save time overall. Let’s say, for example, that instead of having 3 separate team meetings in a week, you hold one long meeting on Monday morning from 9-12.

It seems excessive but you’ll likely waste more than those 3 hours having 3 separate meetings in the week. What’s more, your team members will likely prefer that to having their work interrupted multiple times during the week to attend meetings on different days.

4. Lay Down Proper Guidelines for What Constitutes a “Necessary Meeting”

If you’re running a larger company, and you feel that perhaps some departments are holding too many meetings, then a good way to curb this is to clarify your policies on what constitutes a necessary meeting, and insist that all departments follow these guidelines.

In this way, as a manager or supervisor you can ask department heads to justify their meetings along those guidelines. If they can, then you know at least the meetings are important, but if not, then you can intervene more effectively.

5. Put a Ceiling on Meeting Time Each Week

Finally, for companies where staff are feeling disgruntled at the amount of time spent in meetings, you can try to improve the situation by instituting a company-wide ceiling on the number of hours that will be spent in meetings. This will encourage departments to use the time more wisely and effectively. Just think of it as another aspect of budgeting, with each department getting a fixed amount each week.