Earlier this year, Shopify made the news after announcing that meetings were banned.

This “useful subtraction,” as the e-commerce platform called it, was designed to free up time and allow employees to actually get stuff done.

This bold move led to countless comments in the business world.

So it’s worth looking into the decision and its consequences.

Keep in mind two important points:

  • The company has around 10,000 employees, all 100% remote.
  • The decision was made at the end of the pandemic, during which the number of meetings increased exponentially like COVID viruses would in warm, thick, nurturing spittle.

For example, Microsoft observed that the amount of time a typical “Teams” user spent in meetings tripled between 2020 and 2022.

What’s interesting is how the meetings magically went away at Shopify.

Their coders did what they do best. They wrote code and created a bot that went into employees’ calendars, and deleted their meetings!

After a few weeks, Shopify’s COO Kaz Nejatian announced: “We deleted 322,000 hours of meetings.”

He added: “Those hours were the equivalent of adding 150 new employees.”

Now, of course, meetings are necessary to get some things done.

Here is the “fine print” related to the new meeting policy:

  • meetings with 2 people were allowed
  • employees had to wait 2 weeks before scheduling any new meeting.
  • they had to be “really, really critical” about the necessity of any new meeting.
  • Wednesdays remained sacred. No meetings allowed. About 85% of employees complied

The decision may sound extreme, but it came from the realization that “death by meetings” and “Zoom fatigue” are real.

If meeting elimination is truly not possible in your company, consider these tips:

  • Can the meeting be replaced by a few emails or a simple memo?
  • Before any meeting request – in person or virtual – ask yourself: “Do I really need to attend this meeting?”
  • If you schedule a meeting, can you shorten its duration? Not every meeting needs to last an hour!
  • No meeting should be scheduled without a clear agenda.
  • Only relevant people should be invited to the meeting.
  • During the meeting, start with the most important points to discuss. Then go down the list, from the most critical to the least vital.
  • Make sure that no meeting ever ends without clear action steps. Who needs to do what and by when?
  • Meetings should start on time, and end on time. No exception.
  • Consider stand-up, rather than sit-down meetings. Their duration will magically shrink.
  • The organizer of the meeting should make a point of sending a recap of the meeting, with a few relevant bullet points. This can be done directly or it can be delegated to a note-taker.
  • If you’re going to attend a meeting, be on time (i.e. be respectful of others’ time), be prepared and be undistracted.

In the end, rather than meeting elimination, the better strategy may be meeting shrinkage, in frequency, in attendance numbers, and in duration.

We all would be more productive with fewer, shorter meetings, with fewer attendees.

If you would like to learn how Chronos can help you and your team regain time and sanity, please reach out to us. Simply click on the Discovery Call button above or visit www.ChronosVet.com

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Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free certified

Co-Founder of Chronos