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Is Clockwise Worth the Hype?

Is Clockwise Worth the Hype?

John Stimac
Data Engineer at Clockwise
January 27, 2023
Updated on:

An Analysis of its Effectiveness

Is Clockwise Worth the Hype?
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Everyone at our company uses Clockwise. Not just to dogfood it and catch potential issues, but also because, well, we think it’s great!

That means it’s sometimes easy to forget what life is like without Clockwise. And because our product operates on behalf of all of us in the background, it can be subtle in how it helps.

So I wondered, how can we use data to answer the question: does Clockwise really work?

We have internal metrics that prove our product is working, of course, but I wanted to verify them independently in a way customers could replicate.

Focus Time: How much does Clockwise really help?

Our latest ad campaign says you can “Buy time for your team, literally.” But can you? And how can our customers verify this?

The basic way Clockwise creates time is by converting inefficient “fragmented” time into more efficient “focus” time. Fragmented time is those 30-ish minute breaks between two meetings, where you don’t have quite enough time to get any work done, so you’re kind of just sitting around in anticipation of the next meeting. We’ve all been there.

Focus Time, on the other hand, is when you have significant time uninterrupted by meetings. This is when you actually get deep work done. You need at least two uninterrupted hours to really focus.

We know that Focus Time is more valuable than fragmented time, so any additional Focus Time Clockwise can create (by moving meetings and reducing fragmented time) directly translates into more time to get things done.

You can usually see when Clockwise directly creates Focus Time on your calendar, but it’s almost impossible to tell when it saves you Focus Time you otherwise would’ve lost.

Let’s look at some examples.

The Overzealous Coworker

Say your Thursday looks like this: You have some meetings, some Focus Time, and some fragmented time. You’ve got a big project you need to spend time on, and you make a note to yourself to plan on getting to it starting at 3 p.m.

But then disaster strikes. Your coworker Billy Interruptus wants to schedule a quick chat about those TPS reports. If you weren’t a Clockwise user, Billy might very well slam that meeting directly into your afternoon focus block! 😱

But luckily, you do use Clockwise, and it saves the day! By blocking off Focus Time for you, Clockwise encourages your coworker to schedule the meeting at a more convenient time. No Focus Time is lost!

Credit Only Where Credit is Due

But to be fair, sometimes the reverse can happen, and Clockwise helps you less than it first appears to.

Say your calendar has an inconvenient one-on-one in the middle of your morning.

Clockwise can move that meeting to your afternoon, turning the morning into Focus Time.

But perhaps, the day before the meeting, your coworker calls off sick. The one-on-one gets canceled, and your morning would’ve been free even without Clockwise.

Clockwise’s metrics count this as “Focus Time created” since it did “create” incremental Focus Time when it moved the meeting, but the end result would’ve been the same even without Clockwise.

It doesn’t seem fair to give Clockwise credit for something that didn’t matter.

As part of our latest Hackathon, we decided to verify Clockwise ourselves. We ignored internal metrics and tried to see how a customer could independently verify that Clockwise really works.

Verify Like a Customer

The first thing we knew was that we needed to ignore our existing metrics. We derive many of our stats from actual Focus Time blocks on users’ calendars. But, as we saw above, those blocks aren’t always the whole story. And these metrics are very hard for customers to verify without access to our internal systems.

We decided to compare what a calendar looked like with Clockwise to what it would’ve looked like without it. The problem, of course, is that we don’t know what it would’ve looked like without. (Unfortunately, the great movie Everything Everywhere All at Once remains fiction 😭).

Predicting Alternative Realities

Clockwise can make changes to your calendar from two weeks in advance to one day before a meeting. So, if you scroll into the future on your calendar, you can see a state before Clockwise has had any influence.

We took a snapshot of one week of our whole company’s calendars three weeks in the future and waited until the week passed to see what happened. (Please do try this at home!)

That gives us a “before” state and an “after with Clockwise” state. All that’s left is to predict what “after without Clockwise” would’ve looked like.

Here’s an example:

Different Meeting Types

To predict what “after without Clockwise” would look like, we first divided meetings into four categories:

1. Fixed

  • Meetings on the “after” calendar that we assume will always occur at that time, regardless of what Clockwise does.
  • These are things like company or department-wide events, meetings with external stakeholders, or out-of-office time. These can’t move.

2. Adjustable

  • Meetings that are on both the “before” and “after” calendar but which we know Clockwise can move.
  • Basically, this is any event set to Flexible that we know is likely to move: One-on-Ones, or Team Syncs with 10 or fewer members.

3. Deleted

  • Meetings that are on the “before” calendar that aren’t present anymore in the “after” calendar.

4. New

  • Meetings that got scheduled after the “before” snapshot was taken.
  • Clockwise does have influence over when these are scheduled, even if Clockwise never explicitly reschedules them, as we saw in our “Overzealous Coworker” example.

Here’s the before and after views with the meetings categorized:

🟣 Fixed 🔵 Adjustable 🔴 Deleted 🟢 New

Fun Meeting Math

Now we have to predict what the after calendar would look like without Clockwise.

We start with the before calendar and adjust:

  • Accounting for Fixed meetings is easy; they’ll always occur at the same time. We simply add them to the “before” calendar if they’re not there already.
  • For Adjustable meetings, we assume those won’t move without Clockwise. They carry into our prediction at the exact same time.
  • Deleted meetings are the easiest: they just get removed.

Predicting when New meetings get scheduled is the hardest part. It’s so complex, in fact, we decided to do it three ways. We predict three different scenarios for how new meetings are handled:

  1. A Best Case: what would happen if all new meetings were scheduled optimally?
  2. A Worst Case: what would happen if new meetings got scheduled to intentionally interrupt Focus Time?
  3. And an Expected Case: what would happen if new meetings got scheduled in random non-busy blocks, ignoring Focus Time entirely?

We evaluated these three cases and scored each outcome based on what percentage of non-busy time is Focus Time.

We then scored each person’s real calendar similarly, and compared it against the predicted futures. For each person, that gives us a result like the below:

impact of Clockwise on calendar

Our Results

We ran this analysis for everyone in our company and used that to draw our conclusions. (Our company isn’t actually run by Pokémon, but we had to anonymize somehow).

Our results show that for the week we tested, on average, each person in our company received 6.8 percentage points more Focus Time with Clockwise than we would expect without it. This results in an average of 1.6 hours of Focus Time over the expected case per person per week!

This actually exceeds our internal metrics, which only consider “direct” Focus Time creation. Based on this analysis, we think that Clockwise is even better than we typically claim.

Only 1.6 hours per week may not seem like a lot, but it can really add up!

If your company’s average salary is $40 an hour, and you’ve got 1,000 employees, 1.6 hours a week works out to 80,000 hours a year (with two weeks of vacation). That’s valued at $3.2 million.

Even if you assume fragmented time is still 50% as effective as Focus Time, that still saves you $20 an hour, adding up to $1.2 million. (Measure the impact for yourself with our ROI calculator.)

Not to mention, having more Focus Time can reduce turnover, increase employee happiness, and, most importantly, allows you to get work done that matters.

Looking Bigger

Just to be double sure, we repeated this analysis from a sampling of organizations that use Clockwise to see if the numbers we found hold up at other companies.

Don’t worry; all data analyzed here followed our strict security and privacy practices.

Our distribution shows that Clockwise’s results slightly outperform the median organization, but over 50% of organizations still outperform the Expected case by an hour or more per person per week. We suspect this is a function of adoption: organizations that use Clockwise more get better results. You can always reach out to Customer Support if you want advice on how to better use Clockwise!

Some organizations did under-perform the Expected case for the week we analyzed, but the percentage seemed low enough to attribute this to noise. (i.e., if half a company is OOO for a conference, our analysis probably gives weird numbers.)

What Does This Mean?

Based on this analysis, we’re confident Clockwise is the real deal. It does, in fact, provide significant value at a statistical level. And that’s just from looking at one part of its toolset.

This doesn’t even begin to track the benefits of being able to:

  • Spot low team member bandwidth, which can help managers reduce burnout and churn
  • Easily schedule external 1:1s or group meetings with Clockwise Links
  • Or quickly schedule a recurring meeting that always finds the best time possible for the attendees

And so much more!

If you’d like to learn about all the other benefits of using Clockwise, there’s no better time than today to start a free trial or talk to sales!

About the author

John Stimac

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

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