The $50,000 Conference Call

(yes, math included)

How many Zoom meetings have you been on in the last 3 months?

20… 50… 200?

Probably enough that Zoom has become a verb.

Working from home, learning to work virtually in the new COVID-19 world has been a big change for a lot of people.

However, I've noticed somethings don't change — even virtually.

Meetings that could have been an email.

How much are your virtual meetings costing you or your company?

I’m going to share a real-life case study of a waste of time and money I saw happen in front of my eyes (and ears) just a few weeks ago.

So a little backstory...

With this new remote work lifestyle I've had to get used to overhearing some of my fiancee Emily's conference calls for the first time. She works at a big corporate company and often when I overhear these virtual meetings I wonder what in the world they are trying to communicate.

To summarize, it sounds like jargon and pleasantries, and like the meat is entirely missing from the call — oh and they're way too long.

Recently she had a 2-hour virtual meeting for her and everyone on the sales team (403 people).

(Firstly I’m pretty confident that no virtual meeting should ever be 2 hours — especially with 403 people staring into their screens the whole time.)

After this particular meeting, which I'd overheard most of, I decided to calculate how much in real-life dollars this meeting was costing the company.

As you can see, my conservative math has me guessing that this meeting cost them almost $50k (!!!) in employee time.

Not only that, since these were sales people, every hour they are at this pointless meeting is also another hour that they are not generating revenue for the company.

How much consideration do you think was put into booking a 2-hour conference meeting? 🤔

I’d bet good money that it didn't need to go through an approval process to make this meeting happen.

Imagine going to a higher-up and asking:

"Do you approve of me spending $50,000 on a meeting with no apparent agenda or specific outcome in mind?"

This is the same company that needs her to complete an expense report for each month to check all the spending on the corporate card.

Can you imagine she spent 50k on there without much to show for it?

Angry Office Space GIF

She would be fired (and rightfully so.)

With this new virtual world, there needs to be an even greater accountability for how we spend our time and manage our energy — with the same diligence we have for actual $ expenses.

If I need to get approval to spend over $500 at your company, you should also need approval to book more than 6 people in one meeting at a time.

This Japanese company decided to charge employee's $100 personally for every hour they used the conference room so that people would think twice about booking pointless meetings, and kept workers focused on the bottom line. Excerpt from the article:

The approach has so far paid off. Disco’s operating margin has risen to 26% from 16% since the experiment was implemented eight years ago, and its profitability is the envy of the industry. Its share price has almost quadrupled in that period, to roughly 16,000 yen ($148), giving the company a $5 billion market value. Thanks to bonuses, worker pay is more than double the national average of 4.7 million yen, and in 2017, Disco was the first to win a new government award for creating an ideal workplace.


Next time you schedule a meeting, consider how much you would pay in actual $ to do that same meeting… if you wouldn't pay it, or it won't create equivalent value, then maybe you need to reconsider the meeting altogether.