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Tomorrow’s meeting might cost you time, money and your next creative breakthrough


Meetings are supposed to help groups get things done, faster, but they’re taking over schedules, budget, and creative power. Decades of studies have shown that meetings are draining both time and money (Romano & Nunamaker, 2001).

Harvard Business Review made a calculator to break down costs of meetings. By factoring time, number of attendees and average salaries, the tool approximates how much companies spend during each calendar appointment. It’s shocking to see how much weekly check-ins cost businesses.

HBR Meeting Cost Calculator

But it isn’t just about money.

Historically, meetings in corporate America have lasted ninety minutes and lacked written agendas (Monge, McSween & Wyer 1989). Employees sit through meetings without clear purposes, their minds preoccupied on other more pressing tasks. Frustrated managers and employees are bored and eager to reclaim their calendars.

From small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, workers complain that they don’t have enough time. Management consulting firm Bain & Co. found that executives in large corporations receive over 30,000 emails per year. Add instant messages and crowdsourcing applications on top of regular meetings, there is little room leftover for creativity and brainstorming. And it is these moments, moments of contemplation away from screens and appointments and emails, that lead to better ways of doing things.

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.” – Peter Drucker
Steve Jobs recognised the damage of poorly run meetings. By limited the number of attendees, banning PowerPoint and assigning clear-cut responsibilities, he sought to battle the common pitfalls of office meetings. Google also set in-house terms to keep regular meetings in check: there should be clear decision makers, no more than ten attendees, and everyone should have something to say (if they don’t, they probably shouldn’t be at the meeting to begin with).

Calendar appointments shouldn’t suck company resources, and workers need not dread scheduled company meetings. Well-thought out and conducted meetings can boost morale, inspire colleagues, connect departments and resolve pressing issues. In short, running smooth, productive meetings is an essential tool in today’s modern workplace.

Before adding new meetings to your calendar this week, think carefully through the purpose of the meeting and who really needs to attend.


Monge, P.R., McSween, C., & Wyer, J. (1989). A profile of meetings in corporate America: results of the 3M meeting effectiveness study, Annenberg school of communications, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 1989.

Romano, Nicholas C. & Jay F. Nunamaker (2001). “Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice.” Proceedings of the 34th Hawayy International Conference on System Sciences.

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