Nathan Sykes

April 2, 2021

Estimate The Cost Of Your Meetings

Harvard Business Review has a super useful tool that allows you to estimate the cost of your daily, weekly, and monthly meetings. You pop in the duration, how many folks are attending, and their annual salary, and it spits out a numerical currency that shows exactly how much money you just spent on hosting that meeting. After you receive your initial number, you try to make adjustments by removing and replacing people, trying to get the cost down as low as possible. It's quite fun, and since I discovered the tool about eight months ago, it's been extremely eye opening.

It's easier to get more team members into meetings during the age of COVID. It requires very little technical investment to get folks to hop onto a Zoom or Whereby call, whereas in the Before Times, you had to get everyone into a conference/meeting room, or even have people fly in. It was a little harder to justify. But now? Everyone's at home! It's not like they're doing anything anyway. Come on, hop on a Zoom call for a few minutes.

In my opinion, that's the totally wrong attitude to have. I like to equate it to having a credit card versus having a wad of cash. I'm a proud American Express member, and I use my personal and business cards for everything. It's super easy swiping them throughout the month, and then being pleasantly surprised at how much you end up spending when you go to settle your books. Juxtapose that with a wad of cash, where if you want to pay for something, you're taking out and counting every time a penny leaves your custody. You'll probably be more careful with your money. It's the same thing with meetings. Even if meetings are being conducted by Zoom, it doesn't change the fact that all of your employees are still billing you for this time with their paychecks.


This is where we tell you how hip and cool we are, and how you should totally work for Howdy Interactive or sell us your company or something. Because we do things differently. We embrace asynchronous communication, that allows us to talk and text whenever we want to. We're not waiting on anyone else to respond, because they'll respond whenever they want to. They have the freedom and flexibility to really mold their day to focus on what they need to get done, because we're not holding meetings talking about the work we're doing. What was a fifteen minute meeting turns into a 5 minute response to a message received the night before.

Using asynchronous communication (mainly thanks to Basecamp) allowed us to watch the cost on our meeting calculator to go way down. We've gone from having meetings once a day to really having a few meetings a week, and I certainly know there's room for improvement. On March 26th, I wrote a little bit about how I'm stacking all of my internal meetings on one day per week, but the goal is to do zero days per week of internal meetings. That'd be pretty fantastic. Everything being completely asynchronous except for the unavoidable, once-in-a-blue-moon kind of situation that needs to be resolved with everyone being in a virtual room.

Even during my meetings now, I have a mental count in my head of how much this meeting is costing us. When you start keeping track of how many hundreds of dollars are being lost on an hourly basis, it forces you to stick to the agenda and be precise with how, and what, you're communicating. It might just be my perspective as a business owner, but it's really helped me understand that every minute members of my team are in unimportant meetings, they're actively bleeding me money. It might be pennies or dimes on a minute-by-minute scale, but those dimes will turn to dollars. Eventually, hundreds and thousands of them.

How much money are you wasting on your daily meetings?