Time is money: it’s been said and proven again and again. But never before has the definition of time been so clear-cut, drastic and incredibly precise—through advancements in business technology and communication, companies can track every second of work done by every single employee, with time management tools and productivity trackers to aggregate levels of data that CEO’s could have only dreamed of a decade ago.

However, all that power comes with a downside—the competition is stiffer than ever. Businesses that strive to stay on top can’t afford inefficiencies that, if possible, can be avoided. One of the most glaring issues on a company’s daily agenda is the ubiquitous meeting.

How and Why are Meetings a Waste of Time?

First, to address how meetings are a waste of time, the cold hard facts have to be taken into account. A 2012 article on CBS News revealed that employees lose as much as 31 working hours a month due to wasted meetings. Over 70 percent of employees admitted to doing irrelevant work while a meeting was in place, and nearly 40 said they dozed off.

Many project managers and team leaders know this intuitively—but not quite as many do anything about it. Why is it that all these meetings end up being sinkholes for time and productivity, costing companies anywhere between hundreds and millions of dollars a year due to time better spent working?

In three words: lack of organization. Generalized meetings often address vague questions and tackle even vaguer goals, without a clear-cut plan of action, or a bullet point list of discussion subjects. Most employees feel out of place in a meeting, unable to contribute, or unwilling to partake in the stale environment. Some meetings are held to discuss future meetings. That’s not what management is about. It isn’t necessarily a manager’s fault, either. Holding a daily meeting can be a pain—there’s a pre-existing lack of focus in the room, and only so much time to prepare between getting work done.

How Modern Technology Can Help Save Your Business

Thankfully, modern technology has an answer. Aside from the advancements in video conferencing technology that cut down on travel time and costs by bringing people from across continents together in a virtual room, high-end meeting suites akin to the BlueJeans video conferencing app offer an array of additional tools that act as less of a simple add-on, but rather a fully-fledged list of features.

Meeting trackers, video and audio streaming, integrated file sharing, email and calendar app integration, recording and screen sharing—these are just some of the examples that the best of the best can offer to make your meetings more visually engaging. Because in the end, it’s engagement that’s missing most from meetings.

Productivity and Efficiency Go Hand in Hand

Make something more efficient, such as the time spent on your meetings by cutting the talking and explanation short with succinct multimedia presentations and bullet-pointed discussion points, and you’ll inspire productivity. The Wall Street Journal notes that keeping meeting times down to an hour and a half promotes efficiency—any longer, and you risk losing your audience.

Don’t stop at meetings! Integrate productivity applications and cutting-edge communications technology throughout your business. Modern solutions are simple enough to require little more than a few clicks on an intuitive interface—no hardware set-up, no necessary assistance from the IT department.

Security is another part of productivity that deserves full attention. The more technology—especially outsourced tech—a company uses to boost their business, the more a company opens itself up to malicious attacks. Due diligence in terms of virtual security (encryption, anti-virus control, etc.) and physical security (verifying the level of sophistication of a company’s data centers and proofing meeting rooms for security loopholes) is an absolute must. 

Listen to Your Employees

Meetings should be a time to issue directives and plan the day (or week) ahead—but they can also be a time for employees to share their ideas on how to make the company better—or better yet, focus their creative juices on the project at-hand. Focusing your employees on short-term evaluation and productivity while keeping the long-term in mind on a management level (through tangible goals, rather than vague mission statements) is the key to fostering an efficient business environment.

Take Full Advantage of Video Conferencing

Video conferencing technology and the efficiency it boasts as a device for communication makes it more than a must-have for meetings. Apply your newly-acquired software in a number of ways, from assigning individual tasks to certain employees, to holding multiple, smaller meetings with overseas offices.

Due to the expected level of encryption offered by competent conferencing companies, video conferencing software makes for an excellent way to share files and discuss company projects without fear of data interception, or theft.

In the end, addressing inefficiency in the workplace goes beyond the boardroom—every desk, computer and chair can be optimized through conferencing technology and communication.