Is A Meeting-Free Workplace The Wave Of The Future?

It looks like one company is giving their workers some reprieve from marathon meetings.

E-commerce giant Shopify recently made news as information about their new work policies became public. As employees returned from holiday break, the company said they’d be conducting “calendar purge,” removing all recurring meetings with more than two people “in perpetuity,” while implement a rule that no meetings would be held on Wednesdays at. Also, larger meetings consisting of more than 50 people can only be scheduled within six-hour window on Thursdays, with a limit of one a week. The company’s leaders also said they’ll encourage workers to decline other meetings.

“The best thing founders can do is subtraction,” Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke, who co-founded the company, said in an emailed statement as reported by Bloomberg. “It’s much easier to add things than to remove things. If you say yes to a thing, you actually say no to every other thing you could have done with that period of time. 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.” 

As ESSENCE previously reported, marathon meetings have a deep impact on workers’ mental health.

According to a 2019 survey of nearly 2,000 people, 67% feel extremely distracted by meetings. In a 2021 report, Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab conducted a study that entailed 14 people to take breaks in between meetings, while another group went through several without pause. The brain activity of both groups was tracked by electroencephalogram equipment, and the results were surprising.

“I’m not surprised that people who took breaks between meetings felt better. People who take breaks in general feel better,” said Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert, in an interview with HuffPost. Those who took breaks showed significantly more healthy brain activity than those who received no reprieve between meetings.

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