August 04, 2014


All About You ›

Stealing time

It can be debated that our design industry is justifiably obsessed with ‘time’. Time (and – to a lesser extent – materials) is how we make our money.

Within a framework of a standard 8 hour working day, we try to cram in as many chargeable minutes as possible. The minutes are usually multiplied by an hourly rate, from which emerges our raison d’être – revenue and the almighty dollar.

Given that time is as precious as it is, it is sad to observe an insidious theft that is going on every single day – right under our noses (no, I am not referring to fudging time on time sheets).

How familiar is this scenario? You find yourself in a meeting room, tapping your pen, waiting for your colleague to join you for a meeting. You’ve pre-arranged the meeting and you know the event will be in their calendar. 10 minutes goes by and your colleague hurries into the room. He offers an insipid excuse of how his previous meeting took longer than expected. Not only has your workmate implied that he values his previous meeting more than your meeting, his lateness has just cost your company $23.33. How so? 10 minutes of lost productivity @ $140/hr = $23.33; or, you could look at it another way – he just stole your time.

Does this sound a bit melodramatic? Let’s look at the scenario again from Management’s point of view. If your meeting involved five people (plus the latecomer), loss in revenue from this one delay would = ((5 x 10 minutes) x $140/hr) = $112. How much revenue would an agency lose over one week? One month? One year? If you care about the financial and cultural health of your agency, this should bother you.

Being on time seems a small thing, but it speaks volumes to colleagues and clients:

  • It shows you are responsible
  • It shows you are dependable
  • It shows you are professional
  • It reduces stress
  • and it shows you care.

Is there a culture of ‘accepted-lateness’ in your agency? Perhaps it’s time (pun intended) to affect a change – your company, and accountant, will thank you.

You could always consider implementing "The Whisky Rule": If you cancel a meeting with less than 10 minutes notice, or if you miss it completely, then you owe your counterpart a bottle of whisky. It just might work!


A modified version of this blog post first appeared on the Design Assembly website | 4 August 2014.


Sarah Ritchie
Sarah Ritchie


Sarah Ritchie is the founder of AM-Insider - a website bursting with tips, tricks and resources to create account management superstars in the advertising, design, PR, experiential and print industries. Sarah has been involved in account management for 25 years and has a passion for encouraging, mentoring and helping others succeed.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.