Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

Source: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Shopify’s no-meeting approach: Is it worth considering for your business?

As the work day ticks on, employees at many SMEs find themselves constantly pulled away from their desks and into conference rooms for meetings. These meetings can drain productivity, taking valuable time away from important tasks and disrupting the workflow.

Recently, in an effort to reduce the time its employees spend in meetings, Shopify took a drastic step: removing every meeting with more than two people from its employees’ calendars.

The company is also instructing its staff to refrain from adding these types of meetings back into their schedules for at least two weeks. This bold move is part of a broader effort by Shopify to limit the time its employees spend in meetings and increase their productivity.

While meetings can be an important part of the work process, allowing employees to collaborate, share ideas, and make decisions, they can also be a major time drain. By cutting out meetings with more than two people, Shopify hopes to give its employees more time to focus on their work and increase their productivity. 

It’s no wonder that companies like Shopify are taking steps to cut down on the number and length of meetings, giving employees more time to focus on their work and increasing productivity.

“On January 3rd, to welcome in 2023, Shopify introduced changes to reimagine how it can make the biggest impact on its mission of making commerce better for everyone. Uninterrupted time is the most precious resource of a craftsperson, so Shopify is giving its people a “no judgment zone” to subtract, reject meetings, and focus on what is most valuable.”

What has Shopify done?

Shopify has taken several steps to reduce the amount of time its employees spend in meetings and increase their productivity. One of these steps is a calendar purge, which involves permanently removing all recurring meetings with more than two people from calendars, with a two-week cooling-off period before anyone can add them back.

In addition to the calendar purge, Shopify is also reinstating and enforcing its “No Meeting Wednesday” policy, which gives employees one day a week with no meetings on their schedules. This can provide a much-needed break from the constant stream of meetings and allow employees to focus on their work.

Shopify also focuses on the big moments, time-boxing all big meetings with more than 50 people to Thursdays between 11 am-5 pm EST. This helps to minimise the disruption to employees’ schedules and allows them to focus on their work outside of these designated times.

Finally, Shopify is encouraging its employees to use this opportunity to purge their calendars and leave any unnecessary Slack groups, giving them a “no judgment zone” to focus on what they find valuable and get work done.

By taking these steps, Shopify hopes to find the right balance between having enough meetings to facilitate collaboration and communication and fewer meetings that burden employee productivity.

Furthermore, Shopify is prioritising the time of its contributors (ICs) by encouraging them to say no to meetings and busy work that doesn’t add value. The company recognises the value of ICs to its success and is giving them the freedom to focus on what they do best: building products and supporting merchants.

Shopify’s CEO Tobi Lutke said, “The best thing founders can do is subtraction. It’s much easier to add things than to remove things. If you say yes to a thing, you say no to everything you could have done with that period.

“As people add things, the set of things that can be done becomes smaller. Then, you end up with more and more people just maintaining the status quo.” 

Routine meetings: Asset or liability?

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the widespread adoption of virtual meetings to communicate and connect while physical distancing measures were in place. This increased use of video calls and other virtual meetings has resulted in many people’s calendars being filled with more meetings than ever before. 

Some of these meetings may be unnecessary or unproductive, which can be costly for companies. A study conducted by the Antwerp Management School in 2020 found that bad meetings cost employers approximately $4,000 per employee per year. This cost has likely increased since the pandemic began. (Full study here)

In another study, research has shown that the average employee spends approximately 35 per cent of their time in meetings; of those meetings, approximately 67 per cent are considered unproductive. This means that a significant portion of an employee’s time is being spent in meetings that do not contribute to the company’s goals or bottom line. The cost of this lost productivity can be significant, as it represents a significant portion of an employee’s labour cost. 

According to one estimate, the total cost of unproductive meetings in terms of labour cost hours is approximately $47 million per year. This figure highlights the importance of conducting meetings efficiently and effectively in order to minimise the impact on a company’s bottom line.

But meetings are not all bad. They can be an essential part of the work process, providing a space for employees to collaborate, share ideas, and make important decisions. 

Striking the right balance between having enough meetings to facilitate collaboration and communication and not having so many that they burden employee productivity is key.

Shopify is taking the lead in finding that balance, allowing its employees to make the most of their time and achieve their best work.

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment

Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

View all posts