Calendar.help: Designing a workflow-based scheduling agent with humans in the loop

Justin Cranshaw, Emad Elwany, Todd Newman, Rafal Kocielnik, Bowen Yu, Sandeep Soni, Jaime Teevan, Andrés Monroy-Hernández

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although information workers may complain about meetings, they are an essential part of their work life. Consequently, busy people spend a significant amount of time scheduling meetings. We present Calendar.help, a system that provides fast, efficient scheduling through structured workflows. Users interact with the system via email, delegating their scheduling needs to the system as if it were a human personal assistant. Common scheduling scenarios are broken down using well-defined workflows and completed as a series of microtasks that are automated when possible and executed by a human otherwise. Unusual scenarios fall back to a trained human assistant who executes them as unstructured macrotasks. We describe the iterative approach we used to develop Calendar.help, and share the lessons learned from scheduling thousands of meetings during a year of real-world deployments. Our findings provide insight into how complex information tasks can be broken down into repeatable components that can be executed efficiently to improve productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationExplore, Innovate, Inspire
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages2382-2393
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450346559
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017 - Denver, United States
Duration: May 6 2017May 11 2017

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings
Volume2017-May

Other

Other2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDenver
Period5/6/175/11/17

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

Keywords

  • Assistant
  • Conversational agent
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Macrotask
  • Microtask
  • Scheduling

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