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What is Officehours?

Officehours is a different kind of professional network. It’s based on the idea of helping one another.

The first part of this comes in the form of one-on-one advice. These are 10 minute personal sessions, during which peers get/give one-on-one feedback on a wide variety of topics.

Why did you make it?

In part, because the status quo sucks. The dominant professional social network is broken: a résumé site with social elements bolted on. Through it, you receive requests to connect, but are unlikely to form actual relationships.

More than that, there are huge knowledge gaps in the world that shouldn’t exist. You might have a problem that can’t be solved with a web search. That said, someone else has probably faced—and solved—the very same problem you’re grappling with. We help erase these gaps, by helping connect people—who might not even know one another, yet.

How does it work?

Scan our Advisors page and pick someone who might be able to help with your need. Then, request a session, and briefly describe what you’d like to talk about. If the advisor believes he/she can help, your request is approved.

A little before the set time, return to Officehours. Plug your headphones and mic into your computer and test your audio. If everything works, you’re set. If it doesn’t, it could be one of these problems or something to do with your network. Enter the session, and you’ll have a voice call with your advisor.

At the end of the session, we’ll ask you for feedback. From there, you can search for other advisors who might also help. Alternately, you can lend a hand to others who might benefit from your unique expertise.

Why should I use it?

There are a lot of reasons to use Officehours. For advisors, it represents a way to help others in a manageable fashion. Instead of needing to take hours out of your day, you can help 4 people in an hour—without even leaving your desk.

More importantly, though, you don’t know everything—no matter how smart you are. Officehours represents a way to continually learn, by accessing bits of useful knowledge—without any cost to you. Not taking up an opportunity like that seems silly.

Beyond knowledge, connections—real ones—are important (and sometimes difficult to find). That’s the beauty of Officehours. Even 10 minutes is enough to get to know someone new. And in helping others, you often build relationships you otherwise wouldn’t.

Who can join?

We welcome everyone who’s open to growth. So don’t come here to bolster your own ego, or pick others apart. Join because you want to be a part of something positive. Lend a hand, be constructive, and ask questions. That last part is important. Those who get the most out of Officehours appreciate that even experts have lots to learn.

Who are you?

Just two guys. Eric Shelkie is the developer, and I (Eric Karjaluoto) am the designer. We’re staying small, because we think this is the best way to build a product of this nature. So, our project is entirely self-financed, and in no way influenced by outside funders. (It also means that some changes take longer for us to get to than we like.)

When did you start this?

We played with the idea for a while, and started active development in February 2015. Our soft launch was in August of the same year, and we started inviting more people to try the services in late September.

How are you different from Clarity.fm?

We share a lot of similarities, but we feel that our philosophies are quite different. We look upon Clarity.fm as a micro-consulting platform. They help you sell/buy time by the minute.

For some, this is a great solution. We take a different approach, though. We believe that those who need help most might not always have money to spend. Meanwhile, those who can help the most might not need payment. However, everyone benefits from mutual goodwill—and the new relationships that ensue. So, interactions here are made available free of charge.

Our long-term objective is to build an opportunity platform. This plan is predicated on us building something that many can use, and share within. Again, there’s nothing wrong with Clarity.fm. We’re just doing something different.

What features are you working on?

Oh, so many! We have a roadmap that extends out for about a year, and I’ve (quite fully) comped how we’ll build it out. Feel free to browse the upcoming features list. We also maintain a changelog, noting updates, as they happen.

How much does it cost?

Officehours is free, and we intend to keep it that way. In the future, we’ll likely add some add-on services, which we’ll charge for. Nevertheless, all the features you see now will remain free to use.

How does Officehours make money?

Short answer: we don’t. Instead, we do a modicum of work for clients, through our design studio smashLAB. This, coupled with our savings, is enough to keep our families fed, and mortgages paid.

Soon, we’ll allow businesses to post jobs on Officehours. This’ll begin as a free service, just to get it rolling. After that, we’ll start charging for each job listing. This should help us break-even. Later, we plan on adding paid Pro accounts, with added features—as well as paid Team pages.

Truth of the matter, is that we’re not in this for the money. We’re building Officehours because we think it could be of benefit to many people. Meanwhile, we just need to make enough money to cover our costs. (And keep us focused on making this good.)

Can businesses/universities use Officehours?

Yes and no. Individuals from businesses and universities are welcome to use Officehours. In fact, schools like Vancouver Island University have already worked it into their curriculum. Accounts need to be registered to individuals, not organizations, though.

We insist on this because the person-to-person nature of this service is key to what we aim to build. We have Team pages in the works, which will allow organizations to show a common front, and better respond to requests. (We think this will be particularly useful for Universities, as it will allow faculty to offer office hours remotely. Plus, it could help with recruitment.) That said, these are still a few months out.

You can pre-register your team page, now.

Is there an Officehours app?

We have one in the works. We still need a bit of time to make sure it’s good enough to release, though. Please be patient—we’d rather give you something good, in time, than something now that disappoints you.

How can I help?

If you think what we’re doing here is worthwhile, consider upgrading to a Pro plan (coming soon). This won’t afford you any special privileges, yet (these are in the works). However, it does help us get a tiny bit closer to being cash-flow positive. More than that, it’s a way for you to show your support for what we’re doing here. It also allows you to show off with a super-boss badge that we’ll put on your profile page.