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Collaboration

One initiative organizations can use to start 2008 off right is to more be more efficient and effective when scheduling meetings. Anyone that regularly tries to schedule meetings with participants outside his or her organization knows, a good deal of time can be wasted in email or on the phone trying to find common free time. The more parties involved, the more difficult those negotiations become. Shared calendars can be a way to avoid this, especially for dispersed or multi-organizational teams. Travel time, even over relatively short distances such as a typical suburban to metro commute, can really add to a person’s stress level. In a previous job, I used to get a lot of requests to meet in-person for briefings either in the city or for breakfast or lunch at a local restaurant. Given the stress of the daily workload, even though I loved meeting with people face-to-face, I did everything I could to minimize the impact of these on my day. After a while I realized even scheduling meetings around off-peak drive times or changing the time I went into the office, couldn’t make up for lost time. If you run into resistance or scheduling impasses when planning in-person meetings, go the audio or web conferencing route, it will save time for either you or other team members. Meeting online also benefits the environment by reducing a team’s carbon footprint.Sharing calendars with every partner or customer doesn’t always make sense, so having a standard way to invite someone to a meeting via email can simplify the process and increase the likelihood that invite recipient adds a meeting to his or her calendar. iCal is the standard data format for sending and processing invites. Of course when a shared calendar integrates with a web conferencing application, that integration can save a couple steps for the meeting organizer and makes it easier to track meetings for internal billing purposes. Post by Michael Caton, Collaboration Evangelist, WebEx

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