Meeting Cost Calculator – a terrifying and brilliant way to identify the true cost of excessive meetings

Purposeless and ineffective meetings quite literally litter calendars thousands of times a year – in fact, perhaps you’ve just left one… or perhaps you’re just about to go into one… 

Despite ‘knowing’ that teams need maker time – which is significantly hindered by frequent meeting interruption – leaders continue to stick in countless catch ups, reviews, reviews of reviews, review of reviews of reviews… every. single. day. 

We KNOW unnecessary meetings are costing teams creativity, but for some leaders this knowledge doesn’t seem to be enough. So, it’s time for a new (some might say radical) tactic to tackle fruitless invites. 

The Meeting Cost Calculator

Shopify, the renowned e-commerce company, has taken a bold step towards boosting productivity and efficiency within their organisation, introducing what they call the ‘Meetings Cost Calculator’. A tool that aims to get teams to place a real, monetary value on the cost of their meeting time – and reshape the way they approach meetings and collaboration in the workplace.

I love this idea. A ‘Meetings Cost Calculator’ is a game-changer that actively draws attention to the amount of time and money wasted through poorly prepared or unnecessary meetings. When employees schedule an event using Google Calendar, Shopify’s integrated tool estimates the cost of the meeting based on factors such as average pay data, number of attendees, and the event’s length. Imagine being faced with the realisation that an hour-long sync with three team members could cost a staggering £2,115!

I’d strongly recommend you try implementing a version of this into your business. Even if it’s as simple as assigning a ‘cost’ for each person in your business so you can see how much billable time they’re spending in potentially surplus meetings. 

An example: 

Imagine that you have three people on your team who are charged out to clients at £200 per hour. Then imagine that those three people have two ineffective meetings a week together for one hour. That’s £1200 a week on two meetings. Over 48 weeks that’s costing you £57,600 a year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Why else might you build a meetings cost calculator into your business?

Enhanced Meeting Consciousness: The calculator makes meeting costs transparent, increasing awareness among employees about the time and resources expended during each session. This heightened consciousness encourages teams to critically evaluate meeting necessity.

Discourage Unnecessary Meetings: When employees see the actual cost of meetings, they are more inclined to question the need for non-essential gatherings. Unnecessary meetings are reduced or eliminated, freeing up time for more valuable tasks.

Optimised Resource Allocation: By understanding the cost implications, businesses can better allocate resources to meetings that align with strategic goals, ensuring they get the most value from their workforce.

Improved Meeting Efficiency: Armed with cost data, teams are motivated to streamline meetings and keep them focused, resulting in more productive and efficient discussions.

Increased Decision-Making Speed: The calculator prompts teams to make decisions faster as they are conscious of the financial implications of prolonging discussions unnecessarily.

Encourages Creative Collaboration Methods: Instead of defaulting to traditional meetings, teams are encouraged to explore alternative, more creative collaboration methods, leading to innovative problem-solving.

Better Meeting Preparation: The awareness of costs motivates meeting organisers to be better prepared, ensuring agendas are clear, and participants are fully engaged.

Positive Impact on Morale: Employees appreciate a culture that values their time and efforts. By reducing unnecessary meetings, morale and job satisfaction can increase.

Data-Driven Insights: Over time, data generated by the calculator provides valuable insights into meeting trends, enabling data-driven decisions to further optimise the meeting culture.

Demonstrates Leadership’s Commitment: Introducing the calculator shows employees that leadership is committed to improving efficiency, fostering a more engaged and accountable workforce.

Now, let’s dive into three key takeaways from this innovative approach that you might find yourself contemplating:

1. Confronting Fear and Reality

At first, the idea of implementing a ‘Meetings Cost Calculator’ might be daunting. You might be hesitant because deep down, you know the figures will likely be substantial. However, facing this fear head-on is crucial. Acknowledging the potential inefficiencies in your meeting culture is the first step towards driving positive change. Embrace the opportunity to uncover areas of improvement and remember that recognising the problem is the first step towards finding a solution.

2. Streamlining and Scrapping

Once you utilise the ‘Meetings Cost Calculator,’ you’ll quickly realise that some meetings can be instantly scrapped from your schedule. Knowing the actual cost attached to unproductive meetings will make it easier to identify those that do not add value to your business goals. Embrace the courage to eliminate such meetings, freeing up precious time for more meaningful work.

3. Making Meetings Valuable and Effective

After identifying the meetings that truly matter, your focus should shift towards making them as valuable and efficient as possible. Take inspiration from successful practices such as favouring 30-minute meetings over 60-minute ones, allowing for more focused and effective discussions. Additionally, consider who truly needs to be present in each meeting. The “Amazon Two-Pizza Rule,” as mentioned by Jeff Bezos, emphasises the importance of keeping meetings small and only involving essential team members to maintain productivity.

Some businesses choose to adopt different practices for their meetings, for example at Oneteam, no meetings are scheduled before 13:00, allowing mornings to be devoted to individual productivity. 

Remember, if there’s a meeting, someone should take responsibility for writing the minutes and summarising the key points. This enables those who don’t need to attend to stay informed and contribute to quick decision-making while maintaining a reliable source of truth.

Changes may encounter pushback, but I’m a big believer that it’s essential to challenge the conventional norms that hinder productivity and creativity. 

Venture beyond the fear.



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