Sessions

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What technology do I need, to use Officehours?

At this time, Officehours works on Chrome and Firefox, on Macs and PCs. You might be able to make it work on Linux, but we aren’t testing for that platform.

Safari is a problem. This bugs us, but there’s little we can do about it. Apple doesn’t yet support WebRTC (the technology we use to deliver calls). So, please avoid using Safari with Officehours, altogether.

Officehours sort of works on Android, using the web browser. Unfortunately, sessions can cack-out if the phone goes into sleep mode. (This isn’t a great experience.) Mobile apps are in the works, and should get us around some of our compatibility gaps.

How do I request a session?

Visit the Advisors page and find a person who you think can answer your questions. You can also search by Category, but a lot of these are still empty.

Then click on the advisor’s profile to check his/her availability. If you spot a suitable time, click on it, and provide some details on what you’d like to discuss. If your advisor thinks he/she can help, your session will be approved.

How do I know if my session request went through?

To see your session requests, click the Activity icon, in the top menu bar. In this section, you’ll see your request, as well as other system notifications. You can also find it in your Calendar as a requested session. (Requested sessions are shown in blue, and turn green once approved.)

If the advisor approves your request, we’ll send an email to let you know. Please check that the one in your profile is accurate. Folks commonly mistype their email addresses and subsequently miss out on notifications.

How do I prepare for a session?

First, watch this video it goes over all of the basics:

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For additional tips, this blog post: How to prepare for an Officehours session, might come in handy.

Why isn’t my session request being approved?

There are many reasons that your requests might not get approved. Could be that your advisor doesn’t think he/she can help with the problem you described, in your initial request. Additionally, some advisors are in high demand. This might mean he/she wants to help, but just approved someone else. So, it might be worth trying again.

Another possibility is that the advisor you seek added his/her email address incorrectly. In this case, your prospective advisor isn’t receiving notifications. If you think this might be the case, perhaps reach out to him/her via Twitter and ask what’s up. Could be that they’re missing out on other notifications, too.

Why do sessions only last 10 minutes?

The 10 minute time restriction is the most contentious aspect of what we’ve built. For every 9 people who love it, 1 hates it. And, admittedly, the hard stop at the 10 minute mark can be disconcerting. Nevertheless, we believe this limit to be crucial to the Officehours experience.

Many advisors are time-strapped. Asking these people to contribute indeterminate amounts of time to Officehours is a big ask—and might not fit with their schedules. On the other hand, 10 minutes is pretty manageable (and can be scheduled on a recurring basis).

By limiting sessions to just 10 minutes, there’s an onus on each party to keep the conversation focused. We think this is good for everyone.

Do sessions use video or voice?

Sessions on Officehours are voice-based (with a chat window for sharing links/notes), because we feel this makes for the most comfortable interaction.

Sessions occur entirely within the Officehours platform, and are effectively a VoIP call. We don’t plan on adding a video option, as we feel it wouldn’t add much utility. However, we are working on screen sharing capabilities.

Can I get a longer session?

There are some ways to get more time with an advisor. The best one is to be early. We allow sessions to begin up to 5 minutes in advance of the scheduled start time. So, if both of you are ready to go, you can start your session early. (Plus, these don’t count against your 10 minute limit.)

We also have an extend session option coming online in the next couple of months. This will allow advisors to (at their discretion) add an extra 5 minutes to a session. They won’t always be able to use this feature, though. For example, if they have sessions booked immediately following yours, this option isn’t available to them.

Another option is to ask for an additional session. This is not uncommon. In fact, many advisors enjoy ongoing relationships, as they can see how you’re progressing—and provide additional tips. So, don’t hesitate to ask for another session. But, do be the kind of person they’ll want to grant another session to.

How do I extend a session?

Advisors with Pro memberships can extend sessions. This functionality opens up a few extra minutes for when you’re mid-thought—and running out of time. Once your session hits the last minute, an Extend Session option will appear (in the session interface, beneath the timer). Click this and you’ll get another 4 minutes.

Learners can’t extend sessions. This functionality is only in place for advisors, as they’re the ones volunteering time. Meanwhile, it’s only for adding a little extra time. For longer sessions, we recommend offering a Workshop.

How do I become an advisor?

Anyone can become an advisor on Officehours. I’ve provided some information on how, here, which will get you started. The important part is that you provide accurate information about yourself. Once you’ve done so, you can add sessions in your Calendar. That’s it.

How do I create sessions?

I’ll add a text write up here shortly. In the meanwhile, here’s a quick video overview:

How many sessions do I need to offer?

There’s no minimum requirement for sessions, nor any limit on how many you offer. Generally, we recommend offering only as many as you can properly support. There’s no point in saying you’re available 24/7, and not actually having that capacity.

Increasingly, we see advisors posting an hour, or half-hour’s worth of time, every week or so. This allows them to block off a set time in their calendar, dedicated to Officehours. Plus, by using recurring sessions, they never need to add new sessions—this happens automatically for them.

Can I sync meetings with my Google/Outlook/Apple calendar?

Every week or so, I get an email, asking if there’s any way to sync an Officehours calendar to one’s Google/Apple/Outlook calendar. The answer is yes—and if you do it with a feed, you only ever need to do it once! The feed will automatically update your calendar from then on. (This is different from downloading an ICS file, which is only a snapshot of your current schedule—that doesn’t automatically update.)

Jump to your preferred calendar:

Add your Officehours feed to Google Calendar

This is how you can link your Officehours calendar to your Google Calendar, using a feed. This then pulls event information from Officehours, into your Google Calendar, so you have it accessible whenever you need.

1) Go to your Officehours calendar.

Go to your Officehours Calendar.

2) Click Add to Outlook/Google Calendar.

Click Add to Outlook/Google Calendar.

Copy the calendar feed link, under Subscribe to your Officehours calendar feed.

4) Open Google Calendar.

Open Google Calendar.

5) In the left bar, next to Other calendars click the arrow in the box.

In the left bar, next to Other calendars click the arrow in the box.

6) Select Add by URL.

Select Add by URL

7) Paste the address into the URL field, and click Add Calendar.

Paste the address into the URL field, and click Add Calendar.

8) If the calendar isn’t highlighted, click it to see it in the schedule (it’ll change color when active).

If the calendar isn’t highlighted, click it to see it in the schedule (it’ll change color when active)

9) You’re done! The calendar will now check for updates automatically.

Do the happy dance!

Add your Officehours feed to Outlook

This is how you can link your Officehours calendar to your Outlook Calendar, using a feed. This then pulls event information from Officehours, into your Outlook Calendar, so you have it accessible whenever you need.

1) Go to your Officehours calendar.

Go to your Officehours calendar.

2) Click Add to Outlook/Google Calendar.

Click Add to Outlook/Google Calendar

Copy the calendar feed link, under *Subscribe to your Officehours calendar feed.

4) Open Outlook, and select Calendar.

Open Outlook, and select Calendar.

5) In the sidebar, right click on My Calendars. Then select Add Calendar, and From Internet…

In the sidebar, right click on My Calendars. Then select Add Calendar, and From Internet…

Paste the calendar feed link into the URL field, then click the OK button

7) If you can’t see your Officehours calendar, click the checkbox beside it to display it. (Your calendar feed will update every time you hit Send/Receive.)

If you can’t see your Officehours calendar, click the checkbox beside it to display it. (Your calendar feed will update every time you hit Send/Receive.)

8) To set your calendar to automatically update, go to Options.

To set your calendar to automatically update, go to Options.

9) Select Advanced from the panel’s sidebar.

Select Advanced from the panel’s sidebar.

10) Scroll down a little, and click on Send/Receive.

Scroll down a little, and click on Send/Receive.

11) Change the automatical send/receive schedule to your liking. (I set mine to run every 5 minutes.)

Change the automatical send/receive schedule to your liking. (I set mine to run every 5 minutes.)

12) Success!

Success!

Add your Officehours feed to Apple Calendar

This is how you can link your Officehours calendar to your Apple Calendar, using a feed. This then pulls event information from Officehours, into your Apple Calendar, so you have it accessible whenever you need.

1) Go to your Officehours calendar.

Go to your Officehours calendar.

2) Click Add to Outlook/Google Calendar.

Click Add to Outlook/Google Calendar.

Copy the calendar feed link, under Subscribe to your Officehours calendar feed.

4) Open Apple Calendar.

Open Apple Calendar.

5) Under the File menu item, select New Calendar Subscription.

Under the File menu item, select New Calendar Subscription.

6) Paste the address into the URL field and click Subscribe.

Paste the address into the URL field and click Subscribe.

7) Choose your auto-renew settings. This will establish how frequently your calendar updates. (I set mine to Every 5 minutes.)

You can also adjust this setting in the future by right-clicking the Officehours calendar, in the left column, and selecting Get Info. This will bring up the same options panel.

Choose your auto-renew settings. This will establish how frequently your calendar updates. (I set mine to Every 5 minutes.)

8) You’re done! The calendar will now check for updates automatically.

You’re done! The calendar will now check for updates automatically.

Typically, this all works beautifully, once you have it set up. That said, things do sometimes go awry. So, if you run into any problems with the above, email me and I’ll lend a hand.

What time zone are sessions listed in?

All times on Officehours are localized to the user. So, what someone in Toronto sees as 11:00 AM EST, someone in Vancouver will see as 8:00 AM PST. Put differently: don’t worry about time zones—we have them covered.

Time zones are set automatically, using your current location. In some specific instances, users want to manually change their time zone. If this is the case for you, do so in your Settings.

Why doesn’t anyone request my sessions?

We get this question a lot. The most common answer is: you didn’t tell anyone about it. This makes some folks angry. They figure that since they’re volunteering their time, we should deliver boat-loads of grateful people, clamouring for an opportunity to talk. Umm… right.

Truth is, we provide a platform (sort of like WordPress does). We help you showcase your skills, make time available, coordinate sessions, and deliver calls. Additionally, we bring in some folks who’re browsing the site. We can’t deliver an audience to every Officehours profile, though (any more than WordPress can sends readers to every blog).

So, the onus lies with you, to spread the word about your sessions and availability. You can do this on social media, through email signatures, on your blog, or… well, here are some more ideas. Thomas has even more.

How do I cancel a session?

Easy. Go to your Calendar, and click on the session you want to cancel. From there, you can cancel the session, or delete the space. If it’s already booked, you’ll have the opportunity to send a note, explaining why you needed to cancel.

How do I cancel recurring sessions?

Go to your Calendar and click on that time slot you want to remove. Then click Delete Space. You’ll then see a purple screen with some options. To delete just this one occurrence, click Delete Space. To delete all recurrences of this event, click Annihilate Series.

What happens if I miss a meeting?

First go to your Messages. From there, you can contact the person you stood-up, and explain what happened.

Everyone slips, so if this happens once, don’t sweat it. Just apologize and perhaps reschedule. Try to avoid letting it happen again, though. No-shows negatively impact your karma. If yours gets too low, you’ll lose some access and privileges on Officehours. (Plus, it’s not nice for others here.)

What are workshops?

Workshops are much like sessions, but intended for working groups, more than one-on-one interactions. As such, multiple parties can participate in a workshop, and the duration can run for up to 1 hour.

You can name a workshop, and specify an audience. When interested parties can sign up for your workshop we add them to your participant list; you don’t even need to approve them (however, you can remove those who shouldn’t be there).

Here’s a walkthrough of how to set up a workshop:

Are sessions recorded?

No. We’re contemplating adding a feature that allows you to record your session, but we’re still unsure about it. Although we think it could be handy to provide a transcript of your talk, we worry that some will be weirded out by such a feature. (Personally, I clam up the moment I know “tape” is rolling.) So, we’ll continue to mull this over, but don’t expect it to happen any time soon.