Companies love to have meetings. In my experience, the bigger the company, the more they like to meet. While working for a Fortune 100 IT services company I once had more than 20 hours of my work week filled with recurring meetings. In other words, more than half of my available time each week was spent meeting about what to do instead of going and doing it.
One of the reasons companies like meetings is that there is an assumption that there is some greater camaraderie or synergy developed from the face to face interaction. Do you know what else is greater in a face to face interaction? Germs. Meetings are typically in enclosed spaces and involve handshaking, sharing documents, and other physical interactions that can result in spreading germs.
Some meetings are just local team meetings, but often customers, vendors, partners, or managers fly in from across the country or around the world to participate in meetings. Those trips incur travel costs, lodging, meals, rental cars, etc. Hopefully some Earth-shattering information is covered at the meeting to justify the costs.
In this time of economic recession and with the emerging threat of the potential pandemic of H1N1 (swine flu), organizations should re-examine the value provided by these face to face meetings. The fact is, the same meeting can be conducted and the same results achieved without the travel or germs. Joe Schurman agrees with this mentality in his recent post Swine Flu + Recession = Microsoft Office Live Meeting.