Productivity

How to add travel time to outside meetings

Productivity

Let us acknowledge the fact that every meeting, with no exception, starts and ends with travel-time. A time period which can range from the invisible and insignificant walk between meeting rooms when the next coming meeting is internal, to half hour treks across town for customer visits, to half day flights to a different city.

It seems to me that we individually accepted that internal meetings can be booked back to back – and most organizations sadly accept the likelihood of every invitee being marginally late. It also appears as if we’ve created reasonably well accepted best practices for full day events when we are out-of-office; whether that be the full-day calendar event, or simply an email auto-response confirming the fact that I am not available. That said, it seems like we fail at appending meetings with proper travel time when we have meetings across town.

The most obvious solution would see travel-time as a property to the meeting itself and at event creation you would add address or simply amount of minutes which should be reserved in each end of the meeting. Think along the lines of how you add reminders to meetings today. You could even imagine this depicted differently in the calendar as a soft transparent version of the original meeting block. However, this is rarely implemented in calendars, for many reasons, so we have to apply our own hacks. I see 4 options applied when I speak to people.

calendar-travel-time

  • Do nothing, but always keep room between meetings
  • Extend meeting duration and add notes for actual meeting start in the event details
  • Create a Busy block around the meeting
  • Create a “pre-event” event and a “post-event” event

Most people would suggest that any time you apply a hack like this, it is a usability/feature error of sorts on the application side. Perhaps it is not. Perhaps the get-to-meeting pre-event is indeed a separate entity with its own details and properties, as well as the get-back-to-office post-event. I personally believe that this is the best solution and the only reason we aren’t aggressively topping up our events with pre- and post-event details is the hassle to do so. If a personal assistant could do it for me, then please, go wild!

Another topic is how you would intelligently apply travel time, dependent on weather, actual distance, potential setup for certain meetings etc. I’ll leave that for another post.

@dennismortensen 🙂

* Thanks much to Steven Gold and Alex Poon for reading a draft of this.