Miscellaneous

How this online company got rid of meetings

Kaitlyn Wightman
Kaitlyn Wightman

This online business put a stop to meetings – for good. They found a solution that allows their team to stay more productive without cutting off communication. Here’s their story.

When it comes to finding the best personal loan, elMejorTrato.com – also known as MT Online – has been the go-to source in all of Latin America for over eight years.

They’re also obsessed with productivity. That’s why they’ve made big changes in the past five years, from eliminating email to working without project managers.

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"Since 2007 we have analyzed in detail each one of the tasks we carry out," says co-founder Hernan Amiune in this article. "The goal is to scale our earnings exponentially while keeping our number of work hours the same.

After getting rid of email, it wasn’t a difficult decision for the company to also eliminate meetings.

As a tech company, each team member is a programmer, explains co-founder Christian Renella. "Just one meeting per day can have a 50 percent impact on their daily production.

"From the very beginning, meetings often interrupted the time the team needed to finish projects and reach deadlines. For the highest amount of productivity, each programmer needed at least four continuous hours to write code. Meetings were often scheduled in between these blocks of time, causing a break in the work flow.MT Online isn’t the only company with a negative view on meetings. According to a Bain & Company survey, 15% of a company’s collective time is spent in meetings. And when 20% of meetings are lost due to unproductive activity, more and more businesses are reevaluating the effectiveness of company meetings.

"Typically, meetings were used at our company to find out how the work was advancing and to discuss any problems with the project manager and workmates," says Hernan.

The solution was simple: Create a system that showed the status of each project in real time while respecting the team’s need for uninterrupted work time.

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"It’s not necessary to stop what we are doing at that moment and lose our concentration," says Christian.

Today, MT Online uses project management software to outline what projects need to be completed and explain the progress on each. Instead of meetings, the team communicates via chat for group communication and collaboration.

"The advantage is that the communication is asynchronous," says Hernan.

"Everyone can know the progress and state of the project and what each of the team members is working on at any given moment, without the need for interrupting their productivity."

The team can read messages later when they are not busy or out of the office. That way, communication doesn’t take time away from important projects.

"We can finish our four hours of continuous work," says Christian. "Then, when we have the time and concentration, we can answer any pending inquiry."

Years later, not one meeting has been scheduled on the work calendar.

"Thanks to our increased productivity, we’ve been able to move to a schedule of working only four days a week," says Hernan. "That’s only possible because we recognized that meetings with the technology team are not necessary."

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Larger companies are also feeling the effects of unproductive meetings. Take Hootsuite, for example.

"I get people saying no to my meetings," says Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, "and I think I’m a pretty important guy with the company."

As he explains in this CBC article, Holmes made sure that meetings didn’t take over schedules or company culture. As a result, Tuesday and Thursdays are meeting-free days for his engineering team so that they can work without distractions.

"They are thinking about really complex problems. If they’re constantly interrupted, it’s very hard for them to crack the nut on the whole problem."

For the rest of the company, Holmes has a goal to make every meeting short and sweet. He keeps the guestlist tight and employees are allowed to decline the invitation or leave the meeting if they deem it an unproductive use of their time.

michael-goldman

Business trainer Michael Goldman suggests taking a hard look at how your company runs meetings before getting rid of them. Some meetings, he says, can be effective and productive if structure and guidelines are in place.

"Meetings have to have clear outcomes," Michael explains in this article. "If you don’t have a clear outcome as to what you want to achieve, then why are you having a meeting?"

If a meeting gets out of hand, Michael recommends speaking up.

"If you don’t understand why you’re there or what you’re there to achieve, you have a right to say, ’I’m wondering what’s going on here, because I’m a little lost.’"

Michael urges every employee, no matter their title, to speak up about how meetings are run at your company. Talk to your team or supervisor to explain your concerns or to propose a new, more efficient system.

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