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Question

Question: at work is your agenda private or public? E.g., can colleagues see your agenda (subject + location) within, for instance, Outlook?

Help request

What arguments can I give to higher management or to colleagues to open up their agenda?

Background:

At the work (2000 people) of a friend everyone has a open agenda, even the CEO. While at my work (12.000 people) by default everyone has their agenda on private mode. Because of this it is often really hard to find a time slot for a meeting which suits for all stakeholders when you want to plan a meeting.

As an employee this bothers me a lot since I it takes a lot of time to find a suitable time slot. I will have to contact people by phone, go to their desk etc. simply to check if they are actually available.

When people's agenda would be open, subject + location of the meeting would be visible. It would be a lot easier to check if people are available, and to minimize disturbance for the whole group. I would be able to make an assessment based on everyone's agenda. When for instance, one stakeholder would have a 1-on-1 meeting, I would only have to ask him, if it is possible to change his meeting. Or when someone simply stated.

Of course you could reason that people also have private appointments or they have company sensitive meetings. In that case, at least in Outlook, people can still mark them as private.

  • Have you tried giving your managers the reasons you have provided here? – user34587 Mar 8 at 9:18
  • Not yet, first wanted to check what the Internet thinks ;-) – WG- Mar 8 at 9:19
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    When you say "agenda" are you talking about sharing outlook calendars? – P. Hopkinson Mar 8 at 9:44
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    If you have a hard time scheduling a meeting because of availability, you might be suffering from "excessive meeting culture"... – Erik Mar 8 at 10:46
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    Why do you need to know the subject and location of the meeting? If they are busy, they are busy. Many of my meetings, I wouldn't care, but there are absolutely meetings that need to remain private, you just need to know I'm not available then – cdkMoose Mar 8 at 16:58
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Can you specify why making the agenda ("subject of the meeting") public will help you find the free time easily?

The answer to your question is: it does not matter.

What arguments can I give to higher management or to colleagues to open up their agenda?

None, you don't need to.

Because of this it is often really hard to find a time slot for a meeting which suits for all stakeholders when you want to plan a meeting.

Why is that? If I understand correctly, you'll see the time-slot is occupied or not irrespective of the setting. In case of an open (shared) settings - you get to see the subject of the meeting / appointment, in case of a closed one (not shared), you don't get to see the subject. How this affects the ability to find "free slots"?

simply to check if they are actually available

If someone is busy, they are busy. What keeps them busy is none of your business unless you are managing them.

On the other hand, if you know that people are making "fake" meeting appointments possibly to avoid important discussion which are expected of them (or their roles), then there's a deeper dysfunction that has crept into the organization which needs separate inspection. Opening up the agenda is not going to solve it.

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    @WG- For first comment: You don't need to "asses" anyone's availability, they are either available or they are not, which is reflected in their calendar. How do you decide that the alrady existing "1-on-1" meeting is less important business than the one you're proposing? You have to anyway reach out and ask, even if you'd be able to see the meeting subject, is not it? – Sourav Ghosh Mar 8 at 10:42
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    @WG you say that if "someone has a 1-on-1 meeting. you could request him to re-schedule his meeting". This kind of meeting can be non-trivial to reschedule. If you asked me if it was possible to reschedule and you weren't my boss I would probably tell you no. – P. Hopkinson Mar 8 at 10:44
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    @WG- For second comment: You can disagree all you want, but you also have to accept that does not change anything. Read the last paragraph of my answer. If you feel having the schedule full for others is stopping you from getting your work done, involve your boss/ superior. Inform them that you could not find a free time slot for the meeting which you needed to make progress for your work. but in the end, you have to have proof that your work is affected. – Sourav Ghosh Mar 8 at 10:44
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    @P.Hopkinson Even if you're my boss, I'd say no, if the meeting was important. I expect my boss to know and understand my priorities, if not, time to find a better boss. – Sourav Ghosh Mar 8 at 10:45
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    @WG I think you have to accept that you're in the minority here. If I'm blocking time on my calendar even "just" for for 1:1 meetings or "tasks" then I'm doing so explicitly to indicate I do not want people to book meetings then. Having someone else look at the details of my appointments and then try to decide which ones I might move would be really frustrating. – dwizum Mar 8 at 13:46
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If your job is affected due to being unable to find a time where the required personnel is free, talk to your boss and let them know. I suggest you no longer disturb your co-workers, and yourself if you also have other tasks within this company, by going from table-to-table to arrange meetings. Not only because its disruptive, but also because rescheduling their tasks will take time from their day to do this for you, and it can turn into quite significant amount of time depending on how busy they are in the office.

Try to schedule meetings way ahead of time. In fact, if it is possible to predict who you might need way ahead of time and their dairy is one of the hardest to deal with, you could schedule it in way in advance, and then simply cancel in good time. If such option exists, make the meeting pending and let them know to inform you if they need that slot before booking anything to it. That leaves you a slot to schedule a meeting with them, but lets them take it back if it is required.

Also, talk to your co-workers about how they schedule their time. If they leave small 15-30 minute breaks between tasks, let them know it would help you to schedule easier if they tried to schedule their tasks consecutively, especially if they are of more personal agenda.

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