In this follow-up to our first post on company meeting culture, we explore how the variables we calculated using calendar data correlate to digital behaviors. This analysis can help us understand the impact of various meeting cultures and help develop best practices around calendaring. This analysis covers anonymous data from 522 managers at 6 different companies, so it gives a broad overview of the relationship between calendars and digital behaviors, but it does not capture any specific company culture.

We’ll focus on three variables:

  1. Percent of time spent in meetings
    • The percent of work time per week that a user spends in meetings
  2. Weekly focus hours
    • Number of hours without meetings that are in blocks of at least two hours so a user can get focused work done
  3. Weekly predictability
    • How much a user’s calendar varies from week to week, measured from 0 (no meetings ever repeat) to 1 (every week looks exactly the same from a meeting standpoint)

For percent time in meetings, we found a negative correlation with politeness. In other words, the more time people spend in meetings, the less polite they are to the people around them.

Further, we found that it takes longer for people to respond to requests the more time they spend in meetings.

Thus, managers are able to respond to requests more quickly and communicate more politely when they spend less time per week in meetings.

We also see an impact of focus hours on response time. The more focus time a manager has, the more quickly they respond to their direct reports.

They also have a greater response density, which suggests that their responses are more richly detailed and contain more information.

The more focus hours a manager has, the more responsive they are to their direct reports.

There also seems to be a benefit to calendar predictability from week to week. As with focus hours, more predictable weeks allow managers to respond to their direct reports with more thought and more information.

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Confirming that deduction, we see more instances of managers communicating specific events to their direct reports, in this case informing them of decisions they have made.

Taken together, this data suggests that managers can operate more effectively when they spend less of their time in meetings, have greater blocks of focus time, and have predictability in their schedules from week to week. None of this is particularly surprising. If someone has fewer meetings, of course they can respond more quickly to their direct reports. It tracks that more meetings would also lead to fatigue or crankiness, which can then be seen in how politely someone communicates. Focus time allows managers more time to compose thoughtful responses to queries from their team. And having a more predictable week allows you to communicate more thoroughly as well, since you are not as distracted by lots of new meetings.

While we cannot assume causality from this analysis, these correlations encourage further exploration into calendar data as a means of improving communication between managers and their direct reports. With a deeper causal analysis, we might even be able to design an ideal work week for individuals to maximize their productivity and collaboration. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can learn from the schedules of various managers, and we are excited to continue to break ground in this emerging field, learn new things, and design our product to maximize these findings.

Rachel Habbert, PhD
Rachel Habbert, PhD

Rachel is the Senior People Scientist at Cultivate. As a psychologist, she’s always been interested in people: how we think, grow, evolve, and interact. She is excited to help Cultivate users interpret their behaviors through a scientific, research-based lens.