Death to (Synchronous) Standups

Some back of the napkin math no one asked for about how much daily standups cost your team compared to asynchronous standup tools like Geekbot.

  • Assuming 20 mins per standup (this could be an understatement) and five mins for Geekbot (usually an overstatement), we'll say async standups save 15 mins/day per person.
  • Assuming a standup including ten people, that's 150 mins/day or 2.5 hrs/day, 12.5 hrs/wk, and ~625 hrs/yr (assuming 50 weeks worked).
  • 625 hrs/yr is over 15.625 weeks(!) of time per year spent in standup or nearly eight full sprints. So just under a sprint per person per year spent in this single meeting.
  • Assuming a conservative average of $50/hr, that's over $30,000/yr. But this number pails in comparison to the opportunity cost of an extra sprint each year you could instead build products for customers.

Especially with more workers going remote, a common argument is that the meeting is more about human interaction. But I'd argue a dedicated, weekly meeting to discuss team member's weekends, etc. along with regularly scheduled happy hours work better. These can lead to deeper conversations and more positivity than hearing each other's voices each morning give status updates.

In addition to the time savings, Slack-style standups give these added benefits:

  • A historical record of what everyone said they were going to do and what they actually did.
  • The productivity benefits of taking time to plan your day and get it in writing, helping to 1) stay accountable to yourself and others and 2) reduce distracting rabbit holes.
  • Avoid the context switch (which studies have shown adds 15 mins and double my numbers above) of a meeting each morning and instead do your standup report when you're not in the middle of focused time.

It's up to each team to decide if an async standup is right for them. Hopefully, these numbers show the expense of daily standups. Make sure the benefits are outweighing these costs.

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