Lately, I’ve noticed more folks I know starting to use services such as Tungle and TimeBridge to set up meetings. For those of you who haven’t used the services, the value proposition is pretty simple. You can make a version of your calendar viewable to others in free / busy mode and allow them to determine when and how to meet. It’s a pretty easy way to allow people to actually figure out when youre available to meet and should save some time on the back-and-forth over email that often happens when you’re trying to nail down a time for a meeting.
I have lots of problems with scheduling myself. Things have been much better since I got a virtual assistant and had her manage my calendar using a set of rules I’ve come up with that help keep me sane. But for some reason, I’ve had some experiences with Tungle-like services that just feel socially awkward – it’s not really the service’s fault but rather the way in which it’s been presented to me that make me feel, well, weird.
I’ve had a few instances where I was trying to schedule with people and they just pointed me immediately to their Tungle calendars. I could see free / busy and other info, but I didn’t have any context as to the times that would work best, preferred location, or any of the other things you would normally get from dealing with a human assistant or an email back and forth. The net result was (for me) that it didn’t save any time – it took awhile for the person to give me more guidance on their availability and the location of their other meetings. In the end, the “just look at my Tungle and pick a time” approach didn’t save any time.
The other thing that I find kind of socially awkward (and maybe it’s just me) is that there’s something that still feels weird for me to have someone just point me to their calendar and tell me to pick a time. I’m accustomed to being referred to someone’s assistant who can let me know when / where the person can meet. That’s a workflow that feels comfortable. But without any guidance about when and where the person would like to meet, being told to just “look for a time on Tungle” can sort of feel like a brush off.
I do have one friend who I think uses Tungle well. He regularly refers people to check his Tungle, but he always includes some notes to help, such as “if you want to meet in SF, these days are generally good” or “just pick a few times that would work for you and I’ll make one of them work” – it doesn’t make you feel brushed off and it gives you some sense for what to suggest in terms of time.
Overall, I think products like Tungle are great. I still think we are all learning how to use them and introduce them to people in ways that feel comfortable.
Do you have thoughts on what it’s like to set up a meeting with someone without a human really being in the loop? Think I’m being too sensitive? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.