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Shopify's 'Cost Calculator' Exposes the Price of (Probably Pointless) Meetings: 'Time Is Money' The calculator estimates the cost of meetings based on factors such as average compensation, meeting length, and attendee count.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • The cost calculator aims to raise awareness about the value of time when it comes to scheduling meetings.
  • Research suggests that noncritical meetings cost large organizations around $100 million annually.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

That meeting could've been an email. It also could've cost $1,600.

Shopify, a leading Canadian e-commerce company, is taking a unique approach to minimizing meetings by introducing a "cost calculator" embedded in its employees' calendar app, Bloomberg reported.

The tool estimates the cost of meetings involving three or more participants, based on factors such as average compensation, meeting duration, and number of attendees. A 30-minute meeting with three workers can be priced anywhere from $700 to $1,600. However, add a high-ranking executive to the mix, and the meeting can be upwards of $2,000. (And no, employees don't actually pay.)

The cost calculator is part of a broader, year-long initiative by Shopify to crack down on inefficient gatherings. The overall goal is to "change the default answer from yes to no" when it comes to scheduling meetings, Shopify CEO Kaz Nejatian (who also built the cost calculator), told Bloomberg.

Related: Shopify Is Canceling Meetings For Two Weeks As a Test

In 2023, Shopify is projected to save a staggering 322,000 hours and eliminate 474,000 unnecessary meetings, Nejtian told the outlet, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the value of time.

Shopify CEO Kaz Nejatian built the cost calculator program. Chloe Ellingson/Bloomberg | Getty Images

"No one at Shopify would expense a $500 dinner," Nejatian added. "But lots and lots of people spend way more than that in meetings without ever making a decision. The goal of this thing is to show you that time is money. If you have to spend it, you think about it."

Earlier this year, Shopify canceled all recurring meetings with more than three people, as well as discouraging meetings on Wednesdays. However, the initiative wasn't trimming down the gatherings as much as the company would have liked.

"[W]e have seen meeting creep seep back in and we needed to take immediate action," the company wrote in an internal note this week, viewed by CNN. "Time is money, and it should be spent on helping our merchants succeed or having fun - meetings frequently do neither."

Related: 'Meeting Culture' Is Costing Companies $101 Million a Year

Inefficiency in meetings is a common (and costly) problem faced by many organizations.

Research by Steven Rogelberg, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and transcribing platform Otter.ai, found that noncritical meetings cost a company about $25,000 per employee annually. Additionally, the report found that cutting unnecessary meetings could save a company with 100 employees $2.5 million annually. For companies with 5,000 employees, that number jumps to $100 million annually.

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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