Work is one of those odd enigmas in life that presents such bizarre juxtapositions as the desire to have work yet not do work, and giving rise to peculiar possibilities like the legitimate thought of how people use meetings to avoid work. After all, if meetings are as boring and useless as they are so often portrayed, why would someone prefer them to work?
Yet throughout the vast landscape of the office environment, there are indeed many cubicle farms and corporations where slack-savvy employees would sooner engage in groupthink and brainstorming then face the actual to-do list at their desk and those tasks at hand. There are, in fact, some compelling ways that illustrate how people use meetings to avoid work.
There have already been some materials written concerning the theories of boss approximation, and the possible correlation between the physical closeness of one to one’s supervisor being directly proportional to the likelihood of them being tasked with a new, undesired assignment. One of the techniques of how people use meetings to avoid work is the simple logistical difficulty it presents a manager who is trying to pass off an obligation to one of their subordinates. If the worker is not at their desk, then the ever-seeking supervisory figure will just have to find some other, more unlucky schmuck to hand off to.
Whereas the first way, dodging delegation, has more to do with actual, tangible desk presence, and the challenge of approaching in face-to-face interaction, the tactic of constant unavailability has more to do with an overall propensity for being unable to be contacted. Emails are bounced back with an autoreply saying that the person is in a meeting, phone calls are forced to reach voicemail or remain with an assistant, and co-workers begin to notice that this particular peer is unreliable, thus less often tagging him or her with designated duties in their team’s projects.
Then there is the brutally blunt benefit that comes with how people use meetings to avoid work, and that is gaining the ability to somewhat legitimately claim “I’m just too busy for that!” Imagine that you are getting yourself penned into as many meetings as you can, spending multiple hours every day in these meetings in fact, then someone wants to get together to discuss with you your role in their new initiative. You can now say “Are you serious? Between the projects I already have, my sit-down with the boss tomorrow morning, the management meeting on Thursday, and the get-together with the marketing squad later today, I can hardly breathe as it is! I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to call this one off. I hope someone else can come on board for you, pal.” Even as you read those words, you may even remember one of your co-workers sounding awfully similar to that recently.
In reality, although meetings are not typically a person’s idea of a great time, they are still sometimes preferable to facing the facts and doing their usual job. Constantly slipping in and out of meetings may be a skillful art in and of itself, with many obstacles along the way, but with a pay-off that may be worth the effort for those who may be wondering how people use meetings to avoid work.