The idea that ‘time is money’ has been given a new twist by ecommerce giant Shopify, which has recently provided its staff with a calculator designed to highlight the real cost of of office meetings.
The tool — Shopify’s ‘Meeting Cost Calculator’ (pictured below) — has been integrated into the company’s calendar app and uses a variety of metrics to work out how much money a meeting is actually costing the company. These include salary data, meeting length and the number of participants involved.
The focus on reducing the cost of meetings is understandable: according to Bloomberg, when these metrics are considered, a 30-minute gathering with three employees can range from $700 to $1,600 (a figure that jumps to $2,000 with the addition of a C-suite executive). And Business Insider reports that avoidable meetings could cost large firms up to $100 million a year.
The idea behind Shopify’s calculator is simple: it urges employees to think twice before booking a meeting. By laying bare the financial consequences of inefficient or unnecessary meetings, the tool aims to makes it easier for decision-makers to improve workforce productivity and save resources.
This shift away from meetings is in keeping with a general trend within the tech industry, with the entrepreneurs Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban and Elon Musk all encouraging their staff to avoid them, and research by Harvard Business School indicating that unnecessary meetings are a significant drain on individual and group resources.
The question of what actually constitutes an ‘unnecessary’ meeting is a subjective one however — getting together with colleagues occasionally can provide some benefits that do not have an immediate financial return. In an era of increased home working they may reduce isolation and contribute to well-being, or help foster a positive corporate culture.
The debate about the pros and cons of meetings will rage on — but at least Shopify team members can put a price tag (of sorts) on them now.