As companies large and small settle on how they’ll return to working in-person, a hybrid work future, where working from home is common and expected, is beginning to seem like more of a reality. To accommodate hybrid workplaces, Google plans to expand RSVP options over the next few weeks to let users say whether they’ll attend an event virtually in Google Calendar invites.
Virtual attendees will specify their status through a new drop-down menu that is viewable by the host and other guests in the event details. The company hopes that listing how people plan to attend an event will help organizers know what to expect, and presumably accommodate attendees who won’t physically be in the room. While the new options are currently limited to invites in Calendar, Google plans to bring them to invites that appear in Gmail in the future as well.
People who use Outlook or iCal as their primary calendar app won’t see the new features, however. Google says the RSVP options are limited to Google Calendar.
Facilitating in-person and virtual work is more complicated than turning on Zoom (or to Google’s delight, Meet) and going about your day. It’s very easy to forget about coworkers, friends, or classmates who are coming in over the internet rather than sitting next to you. Acknowledging virtual attendees means common-courtesy things, like turning video on so everyone can see you and sharing information both physically and digitally, might actually happen without a work-from-home colleague complaining.
It also fits with the vision Google seems to be pushing for Workspace as a more fluid, interoperable space for productivity to happen, connecting products together (allowing Meet video calls to be nestled right next to a Google Doc), letting you @ tag someone, and accommodating flexible work schedules with statuses and custom notifications.