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Allan MørchOct 31, 20227 min read

Ghost Meetings; why you should be scared of them

Do you have plenty of meetings on the schedule, but find they are going unattended on a regular basis? Then it sounds like you have ghost meetings hunting your office. We look into what you can do to scare them off for good, so they do not send a shiver down your spine anymore, and so you avoid the scary business consequences.


What are ghost meetings?

Ghost meetings are planned meetings that remain on the schedule but go completely unattended. And while you will often see recurring unattended meetings referred to as “zombie” meetings, for simplicity’s sake we are going to call all meetings with nonexistent attendees ghost meetings. After all, by most accounts, ghost meetings make up 80 percent of all no-show meetings. And there is a whole lot more than just their name that should send a shiver down your spine.


The hidden costs of unattended meetings

Accidentally forgetting to officially cancel a meeting from time to time should not haunt you, but when it keeps happening, the negative effects can snowball. Ghost meetings do often continue to happen because they are hard to catch unless you are watching a specific meeting room. If you do encounter a ghost meeting in the wild, it never feels like quite a big enough deal to stop what you are doing and figure out how to deal with it.

According to data gathered by a workplace analytics tool, over a third of scheduled meetings end up getting ghosted, and the average employee in the U.S. attends 62 meetings per month. That means that a quarter of employees schedule a meeting every month that goes unattended. The worst part? Ghost meetings have scary business consequences.


Ghost meetings have a chilling effect on company culture

Decades of poor meeting management have already given meetings a bad name. What do you think it does for employee morale when the general consensus is that meetings have become so unimportant that people can not even bother to schedule them properly—or even show up for them?

On top of that, it is frustrating for employees to feel their time has been wasted scheduling their own meetings around ghosted ones, preparing for a meeting they did not yet know was unofficially canceled, and sitting around in an empty room waiting for a meeting that is never going to start! That is negative workplace behavior that is very harmful for your workplace culture indeed!

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Ghost meetings haunt your wasted real estate

“Perceived Utilization” happens when ghost meetings make it seem like all your usable meeting space is taken up even though it is actually sitting around empty. This stalls productivity by hindering in-the-moment collaboration sessions and making it way too hard to schedule planned ones.

In fact, a survey of workplace productivity found that ghost meetings waste an average of 27 room hours per month, per room. So if, for example, you spent about $24,000 per year on each large meeting space—you would be wasting $5,538 each year on each space all thanks to ghost meetings that haunt them for nearly a full week of every month.

If the average ten-person conference room is 800 sq. ft. and the annual cost of meeting space is $30/sq. ft. the conference room costs $24,000 per year. Ghost meetings take up nearly a week of room hours each month meaning businesses are wasting $5,538 every year on each ten-person conference room (and you can double that in Manhattan where meeting spaces goes for more than $60/sq.ft.)


Productivity and salary fall victim to ghost meetings

Ghost meetings spirit away about 30 hours every month that could otherwise be spent productively. That means for each employee that makes the average U.S. office worker salary of $13.27 per hour, businesses are wasting just about $400 salary dollars per month on nonproductive ghost meetings.

Considering the average meeting consisting of four attendees according to deep research conducted by one meeting solutions company—that’s $1,600 each month and $19,200 each year that companies are paying employees to sit, frustrated and unproductive, in an empty room.

Whose bonus check is that coming out of?

Ghost meetings ultimately cost precious salary and real estate dollars, harm productivity and morale, and cause overall business effectiveness to take a hit—but we are not ready to let you be scared off of ever trying to have another successful business gathering again.


How to say “boo!” to ghost meetings

Aside from costing the business in productivity; a complicated, time-consuming meeting scheduling experience can irrevocably damage the employee and client experience and ruin the public perception of your brand.

There is no need to be scared of ghost meetings. We have collected tools and tips that will help you scare them off for good:


Invest in Meeting Management technology

Despite the spooky name, ghost meetings are hardly malicious. They are often a result of businesses where meeting management has fallen by the wayside—whether that is because of outdated tools or a total lack of tools at all.

In this day and age, there is no reason at all to be handling something as important as meetings manually. In fact, the single best way to eliminate ghost meetings is by investing in meeting management tech to help you better understand meeting habits, utilize your space, and well, manage meeting planning!

Luckily, there is plenty of tech out there to help handle all the different parts of the meeting management workflow.

  • Meeting planning software with easy room searching and booking as well as in-line service and equipment ordering helps eliminate time-consuming repetition and errors so meeting hosts can spend less time planning and more time getting work done.
  • Visitor management tools that automate the important check-in steps make life easy on your reception professionals and keep employees and meeting attendees on-time, on-track, and safe.
  • Analytic capabilities allow you to quantify meeting space occupancy, no-shows and ghost meetings, meeting duration, attendees, and more. Such insights help organizations optimize resources and capacity, improve room utilization, and overall better manage meeting spaces and bookable resources.
  • Physical displays connect with your meeting management software to show the status of a single meeting room and an overview of all the meeting spaces in the building so employees and visitors can see the day’s events and space utilization.


Make meeting spaces more fun

While over 35 percent of meetings only have two participants—less than 5 percent of meeting rooms are designed for two people. Meeting spaces simply are not designed in a way that makes today’s workers excited to use them, so they will set up meetings because it is what they are “supposed to do” and ghost them in favor of another solution, which leads to all the business costs we described above.

So what can today’s organizations do? Make meeting spaces more fun to be in!

Use room dividers to break large conference rooms into more intimate and useful meeting areas. Instead of investing in new space, have your big meeting spaces pull double-duty as game rooms or exercise zones when they are not being used for board gatherings.

Invest in comfy, lightweight furniture that can be moved around—or even removed—for those longer meetings where a change of posture can make all the difference between a breakthrough and a nap. And for the love of all that is spooky—make sure meeting spaces have modern, user-friendly features. (Seriously, how have we practically perfected smartphones, but can never seem to get the Wi-Fi and HDMI to work?!)


Stop letting ghost meetings haunt your office (and your financials)

From the detrimental impact on company culture to the way they haunt your expensive meeting real estate to money lost on wasted productivity and salaries—all of the chilling effects of ghost meetings can actually be avoided.

Meeting room management software makes it easy to find and book spaces, seamlessly order all the right supplies, usher visitors to the right spot, capture actionable insights, and everything else it takes to say “Boo!” to ghost meetings. Grab all the benefits and features described above with AskCody’s Workspace Management and Visitor Management tools for Outlook and Microsoft 365.

Still a little spooked and looking to learn more before you dive right in? No problem.

Our free ebook Meeting Management: How Much Time Do You Waste? will help you finally get answers to your questions about why meeting management has become a problem, what the consequences are, and three simple steps to scaring off ghost meetings and winning back lost productivity. Do not waste any more time on ghost meetings. Slay the spooks and become a meeting hero in your organization today.

wast less time on meeting management


Allan Mørch

CEO & Founder, AskCody. Empowers organizations worldwide in creating better workplace experiences using AskCody.