Meetings, according to academic research, are the worst. An estimated 36 million to 56 million take place daily in US workplaces alone, according to consulting firm Lucid Meetings. They interrupt the day and thwart valuable deep work; they drain timemorale, and money. In one 2017 Harvard Business Review article, a trio of organisational researchers from Harvard and Boston University interviewed an executive who had taken to quietly jabbing herself in the leg with a pencil as a distraction during painful staff gatherings.

“I honestly think that most meetings are an all-out assault on the human soul,” says Sue Phillips, a minister and co-founder of the Sacred Design Lab, a research and design consultancy based in Tacoma in the US state of Washington. “People are reduced to their functional value. Who they are literally does not matter in that space and time.”

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