Last year, I piloted the idea of hosting Office Hours and I was surprised at how popular my Office Hours were within my work community. Office Hours are an expectation within the academic community and I can remember sitting with my professors for tutoring, to discuss gaining their support for my job hunting efforts, and to discuss my approval (or disappointment) with my grade.
Last year, I hosted my Office Hours in person. Participants came to do everything from discussing time management tips to working on grant applications to fund their creative projects. Since Donda’s House does satellite programming, we don’t have our own space, which would be ideal for Office Hours or drop-in support. We are planning to offer both Office Hours and Drop-In Services when our new space opens, but until then, we had to figure out a way to be accessible for our students.
Here are some of the benefits of hosting office hours:
(1) You already have built time in your schedule to address urgent (but non-critical) issues that may arise. When people call, text, or e-mail, you can send them the link to your office hours that way you can still keep a handle on your schedule and productivity.
(2) You have a place to direct incoming inquiries (requests for meetings, pick your brain sessions and status updates).
(3) You have built in “Research & Development” (in corporate its called R & D) time. Fortune 500 companies all have built in strategies to innovate and ideate. As an entrepreneur you have to make sure that you are investing at least some of your time to researching and brainstorming.
We recently switched over to G-Suite. Within Google Calendar, there is an option to set Appointment Times. Once you set your Appointment Times, you can then e-mail out the link for people to sign up.
We also have a Conference Call Line, and I included that in the “description” section that way individuals with appointments know which number to call. We utilize Free Conference Call.com.
In the case of my Office Hours, we can discuss whatever participants, staff or volunteers want to discuss and the appointment slots are 30 minutes. Participants are encouraged to sign up for two appointments back to back, if they think they need more time. Here is the participant view:
Here is what it looks like on the page to set up the appointment(s):
What’s great about this system is that you also have the option to e-mail those who have signed up for appointments from directly within Google Calendar.
Note: you have to have a G-Suite Account where you are either paying $5.00/user per month, or if you’re a nonprofit, you can apply for a free account via Google for Nonprofits here. The appointments feature does not work with the free Google Accounts.
You can also look into these tools:
And here is a link to Multiple Tools that you can use, if you don’t want to use G-Suite.
In addition to using this tool internally to meet with our participants, our staff and our volunteers, I also plan to use it externally for people who want to meet.
At work, one of my internal goals for Quarter 1 is to really design systems and infrastructure to streamline communications, and this is one tool/process that will help in that effort.