When working on projects, I often calculate how much time a set of tasks will take me personally -- and how long I've worked on something. But I don't always keep in mind the time that will need to be spent by other people involved in the project, either in tandem with me or separately.
At work, we use a conference call service that, after every call, sends you a report indicating what phone numbers dialed in, how much time each participant spent on the call, and the total time spent by participants in the call. After a half-hour conversation this morning, I received such a report.
I spent 36 minutes on the call. Five additional people dialed in, ranging between 23 and 36 minutes per call. The mean time spent was 31 minutes. The median was 35. The mode 36. But another number is even more interesting. The total time spent by those six people (including myself) ended up being 186 minutes. More than three people hours!
What I considered to be a relatively low investment in terms of my time and work energy in fact cost six times the time I spent on it. Were there any people who didn't really need to be on the call? Did I need to be on the call?
BusinessWeek recently turned me on to PayScale.com's Meeting Miser, a tool you can use to determine not just the time cost of a meeting, but the actual salary cost of a meeting. Just plug in the titles of the people participating, and it'll tell you how much the meeting costs by the second and minute. And you can even start and stop it during a meeting to determine how much a work session is taking.
The call this morning, if I have the title mix right, cost a nickel a second, or $3.23 a minute. At a mean time of 31 minutes, it cost just more than $100. Was it worth $100?
A new way to think about how you spend your time at work!