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Meetings are a Waste of Time | Opinion Piece


Important meetings can be a great way for colleagues to effectively plan projects. Meetings are often glorified and treated as “essential” for sharing information and ensuring workers are on the same page, but are they really that essential? When are meetings considered no longer effective? What if the time investments for meetings had a direct impact on a company’s stock price? How would you treat meetings then? In today’s article we will discuss the impact meetings have on workers productivity and how and when we should hold meetings.


Elon Musk's philosophy

A company’s success is often a reflection of how well the CEO manages the company. Tesla is the most valuable car company in the world, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has become a household name. What are some of his time management strategies? Get rid of excessive meetings.


Musk has outlined 3 rules regarding meetings at Tesla:

  1. Get rid of large meetings. Unless they will absolutely be of value to all parties involved. In that case, keep meetings brief. In general, necessary meetings should only involve 4-6 people. If you are thinking of holding a meeting, first consider if the result of holding the meeting will benefit all parties involved (also think, can this be an email instead or not?). Now it’s time to think about the invite list. Too often are residual employees invited to meetings for transparency, but as leaders, determine if the time and productivity lost on the employees will be worth it.

  2. If you aren’t adding value to a meeting, leave. If you are not adding or receiving value out of a meeting, the obvious choice is to leave and do other tasks that will add value. This is not rude, it’s wise.

  3. Meetings must not be frequent. Meetings used to solve a problem should cease once the problem does. Sometimes we fall into the trap of sticking with what we are used to. If we help meetings before, we feel it’s natural to keep having them. But, business is ever-changing, and we need to continually think about our business decisions everyday. Just because we held meetings for a purpose before, do we still need to? If not, cut the meetings.


What if companies charged employees for meeting rooms?

Perks are glorified in the tech space. Free food, amenities, reimbursements and corporate discounts, and other perks that make work-life balance more enjoyable and seemingly increase productivity in workers. Well, what if anti-perks were better for the business?


Japanese chip-manufacturing company Disco Corp. has become well-known for their radical management strategy. At Disco, the employees need to pay to use the office. For example, the use of meeting rooms are billed at $100. Even the use of desks, PCs, and a spot for wet umbrellas will cost the employee. Payments are settled by their virtual currency called “Will” and employees are billed each month. And there are penalties for inefficient behaviors, such as arriving late to work or working overtime (in Japan of all places).


Does this sound crazy to you? Here are the results.


Since implementing this radical system in 2011, Disco has seen it operating margin increase from 16% to 26%, and their stock price has quadrupled, which has led to a $5B market value. As for the employees, their salaries are double the national average for Japan.


So what does this mean for your business? While you don’t have to treat your workplace like a free market fueled by competition, keep in mind that solving inefficiency issues can lead to increased productivity in workers and potentially more sales and a higher stock price. ;)

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Research contributed by Stephanie Heinsohn

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