Excellent news for employers who can't help feeling business is being hit hard by traditional meetings where one hour is set aside for the get-together, regardless of whether there's actually an agenda substantial enough to fill the time: IBM has filed a patent aimed at tackling the "arbitrary hour-based scheduling paradigm".
The blurb elaborates: "A significant source of wasted time is the general predisposition to using integral units of time, based on hour or half hour increments. This is especially true of business meetings, which are invariably scheduled to last an hour.
"Meeting attendees will fill the full hour for which the meeting is scheduled regardless of whether the entire hour is necessary to address the business at hand. The result of this is that a meeting that could have taken less than an hour will end up wasting time due to the arbitrary hour-based scheduling paradigm."
Fair enough. And the solution? Well, IBM notes that "if an hour were shorter, by a small amount, we would be more focused, and accomplish the same amount of work, but in less real time, thereby increasing productivity".
Cue a "time template including a plurality of predefined time intervals for scheduling meetings" which can be deployed "across a collaborative system".
In case you're wondering, said plurality of time intervals "may include at least a first time interval having a first duration and a second time interval having a second duration different than the first time interval".
Rather brilliantly, IBM explains that its "relatively shorter time intervals" could "facilitate meetings and appointments having a relatively short anticipated duration". The benefit of this is that "with a relatively shorter scheduled time for a meeting, attendees of the meeting may be required to maintain greater focus in order to accomplish the goals of the meeting in the scheduled time".
But what happens if you've got a lot a stuff to discuss at your meeting? Fret not - IBM has got it covered: "Relatively longer time intervals may accommodate longer and/or more involved meetings."
Phew. Quite how much IBM's hour-redefining software will cost remains to be seen, and here's one poser for would-be buyers to consider: Do they schedule a one-hour meeting to discuss the possible purchase or pencil in a rather shorter predefined time interval of two minutes - more than enough to decide against investing in this preposterous nonsense. ®