With the holidays right around the corner, you may have recently been hit by a blizzard of calendar invites to team-wide, end-of-year Zoom calls, meetups with family and friends from out-of-town and Q4 individual performance reviews and company holiday parties. Even for those who’ve got a solid handle on managing their personal and work-specific Google Calendars, such a flurry of events can wreak havoc. Before you know it, your boss has been invited to your prostate exam and your friend is getting alerts for Thursday morning’s “LEGAL: COMPANY BANKRUPTCY CONTINGENCY PLAN.”
Meeting to FIRE
Jenna Granger, accountant in Las Vegas: When I used to work at a multinational accounting firm, my boss shared his Google calendar with the team. Everything was fine until one of the team members saw “Meeting to FIRE” on the calendar. This set all 20-plus people in the department into an absolute panic about losing their jobs. It was mayhem, especially with some of the more experienced employees. Just the idea of being kept out of the loop was enough to drive them mad. Anything our boss would do or say got overanalyzed. We even had employees counting how many times they got critiqued during the week to see whether or not they were on the hot seat.
Of course, he had no idea everyone was freaking out about what they’d seen on his calendar. But at the same time, no one wanted to bring it up to him or ask, “Hey, so, I see you’re going to fire everyone next week?”
After a few days, he noticed everyone seemed to be on edge, and asked the group what was up. Someone mentioned what was written in his calendar, and he started laughing for a good five minutes. He calmed everyone down and said “Meeting to FIRE” meant setting up a meeting with his financial advisor, and FIRE was an acronym that stood for “Financial Independence, Retire Early” because he was planning on retiring in the coming years.
Dinner with King Tut
Daivat Dholakia, product manager in Texas: I once had a boss who had just started using Google Calendar. Unfortunately, she hadn’t quite mastered the app and was inputting her entire life’s schedule for all to see. The doctor and car maintenance appointments weren’t so bad, but I’ll never be able to erase “Dinner with my King Tut” from my memory.
An Exercise in Fertility
Milosz Krasinski, digital strategist in London: We use a shared online calendar for our work, and it usually works for us pretty well. Unfortunately, though, my employee used the same system for her own personal calendar and once got the two mixed up, resulting in the entire office having access to her ovulation cycle. Thankfully, the error was spotted pretty quickly and removed — I’m hoping that she can now laugh about it.
Alex Bryce, software developer in the U.K.: My friends and I decided to throw a late-night house party. I set up an event on Google Calendar and sent out invitations to my friends. I completely forgot that my team leader would be notified of the event as well. We had been partying till the wee hours of the morning, so I texted my team leader the following day to say I was suffering from a severe headache and would join later.
“You could have joined early if the party wouldn’t have lasted longer,” my team leader said in response. At the time, I was shocked and embarrassed. Later, I learned that my Google calendar was open to the public and that every event I created had been visible to my team leader.
Marc, social media manager in California: The first company I worked for out of college was a startup, and it took us a while to get “official” business emails. As a result, we all played it pretty fast and loose with our personal Google accounts and our new workplace accounts.
After a few confusing weeks and many missed emails, everyone appeared to have finally gotten used to using their work accounts for work and personal accounts for personal stuff. Everyone, that is, except my boss. He either couldn’t be bothered to sit down and figure out a new calendar system, or he simply forgot to un-share his personal account with everyone — or most likely, a mix of both.
One day, he asked me to put a meeting on his calendar, so I clicked over to view his schedule and ended up on his personal calendar, where I saw two blocks of time scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday. At first, I shrugged it off, thinking it was nice that he and his wife were going out to eat and having fun.
Maybe I was being a bit nosy, but I quickly realized the Wednesday night dinner was with his wife, and the Thursday night dinner was with a woman named Margarette. “Okay, whatever, probably a client or old friend, no big deal,” is what I would’ve thought, had the genius not also added a mental note of (TINDER) next to her name.
A combination of dread, guilt and terror sunk my stomach. I didn’t know if I should tell someone — or tell him — but by that point I was also about to put in my two weeks. So I decided the best route was to wait and then heavily hint to my manager that the boss man could “clean up his personal calendar a bit” during my exit interview.