Do Services Like Tungle Make Scheduling Meetings Socially Awkward?

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.

  • My $.02: Busyness does not necessarily equal effectiveness. It’s been my observation, in business, that important people prefer to schedule by phone or email, and not click on software, be it Tungle, Salesforce or otherwise. What works in software does not necessarily work in reality, no matter how good the software is.

  • You presume a bit that everyone is used to that assistant flow. As someone who never has had (and likely never will have) an assistant, anything that can save the hassle of going back and forth around times, or me having to look at my calendar and type out all the times that could work, have the other person try to match that up with their times, etc is very helpful. At best, it’s an instant process. At worst, you’re right and we don’t save any time – but we could have. Product evolution should help improve that as well – being able to specify some location information as well as time availability would help. I’ve had people schedule things in my Tungle calendar for in person without realising I’m in London, and when I travel back and forth to SF (at least last time I did) getting Tungle to handle the times properly was more of a hassle than it should have been. There is definitely a level of interaction that needs to come along with the Tungle interaction – your friend’s example is great with a few notes. And I’d feel uncomfortable just having my calendar up for anyone to schedule on without an explicit agreement as to agenda etc in advance. But the logistics of figuring out time? That should just go away.

  • Ryan, you’re right – I do assume that most people are used to the assistant flow, whether or not they have an assistant. It seems to me that the location element (where I’ll be for the time block immediately before a desired meeting) is the most awkward part of all – as you know, there’s nothing more fun that zooming back and forth up and down the Peninsula all day to get from meeting to meeting. I also don’t like having all of my free / busy times public because there are some times that look free that aren’t really free for meetings.

  • Adam, I agree – being busy is not an excuse for not coming up with a workable way to manage your calendar.

  • Hey Charles, I am CFO for tungle so I am biased, but I have found it be an indispensable part of my workflow. The game changer for me was when we enabled sending an invite link in an e-mail vs. tungle sending an e-mail directly. That way, I can provide the context and the invite is coming from me vs. some service. nnFor the vast majority of our users, tungle is a huge time saver. I think you are in an increasing minority in the tech World anyway through your use of a human to schedule.

  • Mark,nnThanks for the comment – I appreciate it. Whatever oddness I’ve experienced using Tungle generally has more to do with the way that other people use it than any defect in the product. With overseas virtual assistants available at really reasonable rates, I’ve actually seen an uptick in the use of humans in the loop in my own network.

  • Alex

    I’m a big fan of TimeBridge, but it’s sometime hard to get other people to accept my TimeBridge invitations. Many people insist on carrying on a parallel conversation over email, which defeats the purpose.

  • CA Granite Countertops

    I had a brief stint with an employer that was switching over to Tungle. Transition wasn’t going that well, but people hate change.