Workplace

Calendly thinks it can save you from group meeting scheduling hell

Add another tool to your arsenal for that 15-person, multi-time zone meeting you need to schedule.

Calendly screenshot

Calendly now offers meeting polls.

Image: Calendly

Scheduling a one-on-one meeting over email requires its own multi-email song and dance. But scheduling a meeting for seven people over email is a full-blown nightmare. Add in multiple time zones and incomplete email responses, and you’re deep in a distressingly long email thread. So far, scheduling app Calendly has tackled one-on-one scenarios: The host sends a Calendly link and the invitee chooses the time slot that works for them. Group meetings were still a hassle, despite a few features allowing for round robins or multihost meetings. With the company’s Thursday launch of meeting polls, Calendly joins tools like Doodle and When2meet in solving group scheduling nightmares.

Srinivas Somayajula, Calendly's head of Product Operations, hopes that new and existing users will recognize Calendly as a tool for both the one-on-one use case and complex group scheduling. “We've got the capabilities in the toolset to support either of those extremes and everything in the middle,” Somayajula said.

Calendly surveyed its own customers on the need for better group scheduling tools: 63% said finding the best group meeting time was their most “critical need,” and 80% said they didn’t currently use a tool to address this need. Somayajula noted this need has become more acute as remote-first companies grow and hire workers across the world. “We’re moving toward this hybrid work environment where you’ve got globally-distributed teams across different time zones,” Somayajula said. “You’re able to create a two-way dialogue between the host and the invitees.”

Meeting Polls are straightforward, as they’re essentially the same as the other meeting poll tools out there. You create a meeting poll, select some times that work for you and send it to your invitees, who select their preferred times. Calendly pools everyone’s preferences and presents the options. Then you choose the time that works best for everyone. Just like with regular Calendly links, meeting polls work among employees within a company and externally. It’s open to any Calendly user, including those on the free plan.

Who is this for? Everyone, Somayajula said. Any group of people who need to coordinate a meeting: co-workers, students, friends, anyone. Using a calendar tool might feel a bit formal in social scenarios, but our lives are busy. Designating calendar tools as the head planner gives the type-A friend a break. Although your type-A friend will still be the one most likely to set up the Meeting Poll in the first place.

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