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Shopify bans meetings of more than two people

A Canadian business has stirred up a hornet’s nest by purging online meetings, saying companies are for builders, not managers, and vowing to “give people back their maker time”.

Shopify, an ecommerce platform, has scrapped all internal meetings of more than two people, banned meetings on Wednesdays and is only allowing gatherings of more than 50 people to be held on Thursdays, between 11am and 5pm.

Kaz Nejatian, the chief operating officer, tweeted out the new rules to staff, saying: “Meetings are a bug. Today, we shipped a fix to this bug at @Shopify. To start 2023, we’re cancelling all Shopify meetings with more than two people. Let’s give people back their maker time. Companies are for builders. Not managers.”

Shopify is not the only company to take a hatchet to online meetings recently. In a bid to boost productivity, Meta, Slack, Asana, Twilio and Clorox have taken steps to cut the amount of time spent on platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

Executives at Slack, the messaging platform, are calling the time wasted on such meetings “calendar bankruptcy”, while Asana, a software group, ran its own “meeting doomsday” to clear calendars and claw back lost time.

Attempts by companies to cut the number of meetings is not new, with many targeting physical meetings just as much as online.

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, famously introduced a two-pizza rule that only allowed as many participants as could eat two pizzas.

The Financial Times cited the example of one business consultant who undertook an inventory at a global consumer products company and found that the top 500 executives “collectively spent more than 57,000 hours per year in recurring meetings. That’s the equivalent of six-and-a-half years.”

The pandemic may not have created the issue, but it certainly accentuated it. Microsoft said last year that the average Teams user had seen a 153 per cent rise in the number of meetings a week since the start of lockdowns.

Shopify believes its decision will result in the removal of 10,000 events from employees’ calendars. If it doesn’t work, Nejatian said the company had other techniques up its sleeve.

“We think it’s important to force change. You build muscle by doing it,” he said.

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