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Clockwise or Humans: A Case Study on Last Minute Meeting Moves

Clockwise or Humans: A Case Study on Last Minute Meeting Moves

John Stimac
Data Engineer at Clockwise
October 5, 2023
Updated on:

Clockwise or Humans: A Case Study on Last Minute Meeting Moves
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At Clockwise, we’re all too familiar with hectic work days filled with meetings and lengthy to-do lists, which is why we’re so committed to helping people improve their calendars and make their schedules better. The last thing any of us want is a last-minute-meeting-wrench thrown into a perfectly organized day.  

One of the most effective ways to achieve that perfectly organized day would be to proactively, and frequently, look across all scheduled meetings for the best time (for you and your attendees) – but that is very time consuming. With Clockwise, you can decide which meetings are “flexible” and how much they can move, versus those that are fixed. These Flexible Meetings – which are seamlessly managed by Clockwise – will automatically be rescheduled to the most ideal time. The best part is, adding some flexibility to your day ultimately eliminates conflicts and creates more Focus Time. Let’s dig in further.

Today I want to answer a burning question about Flexible Meetings: does Clockwise create undue chaos in people’s days by moving meetings?

You probably know that dreaded feeling when your calendar moves out from under you – Didn't I have a 1:1 with my boss at 2 today? Where did it go? Did Clockwise move it last minute? – and leaves you caught off guard and unprepared for the day ahead.

Typically, Flexible Meetings get rescheduled well in advance, as conflict resolutions and more-ideal times are most often identified long before the meeting occurs. But sometimes, the ideal time for a meeting doesn’t become apparent until a couple days before that meeting begins. Another meeting might get canceled, which opens up a better time slot, or a conflict pops up, necessitating a reschedule.

Despite these moves mathematically improving people’s schedules, sometimes we hear that Clockwise moved a meeting unexpectedly, at the last minute. We hate unexpected schedule changes as much as you do, so we wanted to get to the bottom of this.

Prior art

Let's consider natural human behavior. How many times has a coworker rescheduled a meeting with you at the last minute?

It’s useful to have some kind of baseline to compare to, so we wanted to first understand how much calendar chaos humans are responsible for on their own. Given we’re in the business of monitoring and optimizing calendars, Clockwise has a robust dataset of how meetings get moved.

Let’s take a look at the likelihood of a meeting to move on a given day, by how far in advance that move is.

ℹ️ Some notes:

  1. We define “0 days in advance” to mean less than 12 hours before the meeting starts. So “1 day” is between 12 and 36 hours in advance, etc.
  2. We’re only considering internal meetings that would make for a good Flexible Meeting, so this dataset excludes meetings like whole-company syncs or external calls that are unlikely to be rescheduled.

The data shows humans generally move meetings right before they happen. 

For a random meeting on your calendar, there’s a:

  • 4.2% chance someone will move it day-of
  • 9.5% chance someone will move it the day before
  • and a 23.5% total chance someone will move it at least once in the week leading up to the scheduled time

This is roughly what we’d expect, anecdotally. Many people look at their calendars only a day or two out, realize then that something doesn’t work for them, and make adjustments. People don’t usually move meetings very far in advance. 

Perhaps the most surprising point is how likely a meeting is to get moved within a week. If you look at your calendar for next week, by the time those meetings happen, one-fifth of them will have been moved by someone!

Clockwise is less disruptive than humans

Now let’s look at how Clockwise moves flexible meetings:

Clockwise has slightly different move patterns depending on whether you’re on our standard optimization window (Teams plan) or our extended optimization window (Business and Enterprise plans)

What do we notice?

Clockwise does, in fact, move meetings more frequently than humans overall. The difference is that these moves generally occur well in advance of the scheduled meeting time. The chart above shows the majority of moves occur at the onset of your optimization window (which varies by plan). In other words, Clockwise moves a meeting as soon as possible to optimize your schedule, not the week or day right before. 

In terms of last minute moves, Clockwise has a:

  • 0% chance of moving a meeting day-of (our algorithm explicitly disallows it)
  • 2.7%/1.9% chance (standard/extended) of moving a meeting the day before
  • and a 20.7%/17.0% total chance of moving a meeting at least once in the week leading up to it.

Here’s the full breakdown of how likely a meeting is to move from different sources.

The takeaway: compared to humans, Clockwise is substantially less disruptive when it comes to meeting moves.

Not so chaotic after all

The only thing that's certain is change. And that's especially true when it comes to our calendars: our schedules are fluid, and as availability changes and conflicts arise, meetings will have to move. But we hope you can rest assured knowing Clockwise is not creating calendar chaos. 

When it comes to last-minute changes, Clockwise makes fewer changes than people. If a meeting is moved within 36 hours, chances are 4 times greater it was a human doing the rescheduling than Clockwise. 

Yes, Clockwise does move Flexible Meetings to optimize your schedule, and that’s a good thing. When you have enough heads up that a meeting is moving, you can show up more prepared. Plus, having more flexibility baked into your schedule is what makes it possible for Clockwise to carve out blocks of Focus Time so you can focus your energy on whatever is most important. 

If you’re interested in adding more flexibility to your day and cutting out scheduling chaos with Clockwise, get started for free or chat with our sales team!

About the author

John Stimac

John Stimac is Clockwise's Data Engineer, helping our team use data for what matters.

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