30 Under 30 2024

Why have companies decided to create tools to measure the financial cost of meetings?

Managers and employees alike complain that they devote too much time to this key aspect of professional life. This has prompted some companies to develop tools to combat so-called "meetingitis"

Published: Jul 14, 2023 03:53:06 PM IST
Updated: Jul 14, 2023 04:00:54 PM IST

Why have companies decided to create tools to measure the financial cost of meetings?Executives spend an average of 25 hours a week in meetings, according to a study by Future Forum, quoted by Bloomberg Law. Image Shutterstock

Numerous surveys show that workplace meetings are on the increase. Managers and employees alike complain that they devote too much time to this key aspect of professional life. This has prompted some companies to develop tools to combat so-called "meetingitis."

Shopify is one of those companies. The online sales platform recently launched a new tool to measure the financial impact of a meeting of more than three people, according to Quartz magazine. It uses the number of participants, their average salary and the duration of the conference call, briefing or other meeting to which the employees are invited, to establish in real time the cost of the meeting for the company.

This cost measurement tool was developed as part of an internal innovation competition—or hackathon in office jargon—to make employees more aware of the wasteful nature of unnecessary meetings. "The cost calculator is here to challenge the status quo, nudging our teams to reconsider meeting necessity and explore more creative collaboration methods," Shopify COO, Kaz Nejatian, told Quartz.

With this in mind, the software has been linked to the Google calendar of the e-commerce platform's employees so that it can be launched automatically as soon as they schedule a work meeting. It's a preventive measure which Shopify hopes will discourage some of its workers from meeting time and again for no good reason.

Also read: How pointless meetings can harm well-being at work

Time is money

And therein lies the problem with meetings. These professional gatherings are often ineffective, if not to say completely useless. In fact, some 75 percent of them fail to result in the slightest decision, according to a French study from Opinionway-Empreinte Humaine, dating from 2017. This finding is all the more alarming given that workers are spending more and more time in meetings. Executives spend an average of 25 hours a week in meetings, according to a study by Future Forum, quoted by Bloomberg Law.

Also read: Productivity Theatre: It happens when visibility and responsiveness take priority at work

However, depending on the worker's position and the company in question, this amount of time can be doubled, especially now that videoconferencing has become an integral part of daily working lives. However, the multiplication of meetings greatly undermines the autonomy and the organizational freedom of each individual. Many employees agree to take part in a meeting out of conformity, or for fear of being seen as lazy or unmotivated in the eyes of their superiors.

Over time, this bad habit can become a real source of frustration for workers caught in the trap of "meetingitis," as well as a drag on their productivity. According to Bloomberg, unnecessary Google Meet, Zoom or in-situ meetings can cost large private companies some $100 million in lost revenue per year.

Also read: How burn-on can be another form of burnout

That's why several companies, like Shopify, have decided to create tools to measure the financial cost of meetings. Other examples include the Réuniomètre from the BrainsWatt innovation studio, and the Meeting Cost Calculator from the highly respected Harvard Business Review. While this software is primarily used to optimize costs within companies, it also prompts a rethinking of the organization of work, and especially the use of meetings. The aim, of course, is not to simply abolish these times, which are still an essential part of professional life, but to reconsider their effectiveness and necessity.

Post Your Comment
Required
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated