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Five Time-Related Questions That CEOs Can’t Afford to Ignore

Jan Rezab
April 28, 2021
Not asking these questions? You’re playing Russian Roulette with your company’s future.

1. WHERE are your employees spending their collaboration time?  How much time do your teams spend on Slack, Teams, email, and videoconferencing?

The Wall Street Journal turned to Time is Ltd. to measure the median response time for Slack users in 2020 (16.3 minutes) versus email (72 minutes) in an article revealing the downside of over-communicating at work.

The average response time on Slack for an engineering team we analyzed was four minutes. So on average every single person interacted every four minutes. That’s insane from a focus perspective. And it also negatively impacts well being.

🔥Hot Tip: Always use threads in Slack or Teams - otherwise when more people join, you absolutely lose context.

🔥Hot Tip: Look at your second most popular video conferencing tool. Example: If you use Google Meet and 20 percent of your people use Zoom, you should consider adding Zoom to your collaboration tool warchest.

🔥Hot Tip: For video conferencing, analyze how long it takes between the scheduled time of the meeting vs. when the meeting really starts. Help your team members join on time.

2. WHO are my teams spending most of their time with? What portion of their time is dedicated to internal meetings vs. external meetings? Cross-team vs. in-team?

Think you know the answers to these questions? That’s unlikely. Leaders of sales teams with thousands of people believe that a majority of their team’s time is spent externally with clients. But we do not have a client where that is actually the case. Typically 80 percent of a team’s time is spent internally.  And that’s a lot of overhead you probably don’t need.

It’s not uncommon for companies to have a weekly meeting of 40 directors for four to six hours. Harvard Business Review revealed that this type of weekly meeting costs hundreds of thousands of hours. The pre-meetings and briefing meetings really add up.

A CEO we spoke with noticed that for a weekly two-hour call with 19 other people, each attendee had another one-hour preparation meeting right before. This was a terrible waste of time.

🔥Hot Tip: Find out which department calls the most meetings. What is the provable productivity of those meetings?

3. HOW are meetings planned? Are they 60-minute long meetings, 20-minute briefings, two-hour brainstormings?

I hear complaints every day that most people are emailing through meetings. Ninety percent of people report daydreaming through meetings, 73 percent do other work. In a Zoom meeting it’s worse, people pay even less attention.

We had a client with a legal team that was on average inviting 50 people to a meeting. So if you have 30 meetings a month and you invite 50 people each time, you are potentially wasting 1,500 hours. That’s a lot of time damage.

We have analyzed data for hundreds of thousands of employees that show who meetings are with and who initiated them. We found that more than half of the big company meetings between headquarters and their divisions are completely unproductive. And when managers have 110-150 meetings a month, they are going to have problems fitting in 30 minutes to make quick decisions and get real work done.

Finally, when you do deep data analysis and realize you don’t need so many big meetings, you have more time for your customers.

🔥Hot Tip:  If you figure out your three-hour meetings are really two hours long (they run shorter) - plan them for two hours in the future. <get-in-touch>Get in Touch<get-in-touch>

🔥Hot Tip:  Eliminate FOMO! Encourage everyone to decline meetings and start from the top: Decline a meeting if you don’t need to be there. Praise people for declining meetings.

🔥Hot Tip: Stop the culture micromanaging. Tell senior management to make their calendars transparent and SHOW that they are declining meetings, so that this behavior is normalized. Measure how often supervisors are attending the same meetings as their direct reports.

4. WHEN are people meeting and collaborating?  

Are some time zones favored over others for meetings? Do people feel resentful because the office in one time zone sets the meeting times?

🔥Hot Tip: Managers’ overtime behaviors permeate your entire organization. Analyze who is initiating overtime and check the flow.

🔥Hot Tip: If you are promoting self management, you might be causing a whole world of pain with overlapping meetings. Make sure your organization has a way of measuring and keeping tabs on meetings to prevent and mitigate overlap.

5. WHY aren’t you measuring collaboration and time allocation on a monthly basis?

What is YOUR priority when it comes to managers’ time? We have more than 400 data-driven metrics that can help you optimize your collaboration culture.

🔥Hot Tip: DATA -- anonymized monthly on team communication and collaboration -- will provide you with greater insights on your team’s time than data from a bi-annual engagement survey.

🔥Hot Tip: Don't analyze collaboration and productivity because your employees might gain free time to innovate and enjoy life!😉

And if you want to learn how time is REALLY spent at your company without sacrificing individual privacy, let us know.

At Time is Ltd., we measure digital collaboration and productivity without ever sacrificing employee privacy. We provide an advanced analytical SaaS platform that delivers a holistic view of an organization's collaboration patterns. We measure your team's digital footprint to improve communication, productivity as well as save precious time. Our approach only aggregates meta-data from a variety of data sources to show how your teams work with your collaboration tools so you can get them more productive and motivated.

Jan Rezab

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