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Show HN: Office Hours – Hold office hours by phone anytime, anywhere
39 points by rpavuluri 59 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments
Hello HN! My name is Rohan Pavuluri, and I’m launching an iPhone app called Office Hours (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/get-office-hours/id145648052...). The app lets you hold “office hours” by phone anytime, anywhere. You can think of it as the green Facebook messenger symbol but for calls. In real time, easily let your network know that you’re free to accept calls. And easily find out who in your network is free to accept a call from you.

I built Office Hours as a side project on the weekends with a friend to address the personal pain I feel scheduling phone calls. I run a nonprofit, and I love having conversations with everyone who reaches out to learn more about our work. But these conversations are generally painful to schedule for two reasons:

1. The back-and-forth email exchange to find a time slot is exhausting.

2. I don’t want to commit to time slots on my calendar because something that takes priority -- aka anything directly work-related -- may come up. Calendly doesn’t solve this.

Given that I have deadtime during grocery shopping, commutes, and other errands, I thought to myself, what if I could easily schedule all of these calls during my deadtime? What if I could just turn “on” my “office hours” and send a notification to “followers” that I’m free to chat? I also wanted to follow my friends and mentors and get notifications when they’re free, so I could eliminate the friction involved with scheduling. That's how I got the idea for Office Hours.

How it works if you have inbound requests for your time: just download the app, add people who want to talk to you as “Followers”, and they’ll get a notification whenever you turn on your Office Hours. Whenever you’re on a call with someone who follows you, your Office Hours automatically close to your other Followers.

How it works if you want to request someone else’s time: just send them a Follow request. If they accept your request, you’ll get a notification when they open up their Office Hours. When you see they’re free, you can give them a call through the app.

I’m looking for any feedback, particularly around potential use cases. Some ideas: professional networking that’s not time-sensitive such as career advice chats, social catch-ups with friends and family, and teachers and students.

In the future, I hope to implement VoIP, so I can make it easier to schedule calls internationally. I also hope to implement end-to-end encryption. Feel free to email hi@getofficehours.com with any feedback too.

Hey this looks really cool. I could see this potentially being useful for communities that have guests do public office hours but might have issues getting the word out to interested people who don't regularly visit the forums for updates (thinking of IndieHackers).

Good work :)

Great idea. I'll try to ping some folks at IndieHackers to see if they're interested. And other forums too.

Great idea. You should add the ability to create groups. For example, if you join a startup incubator’s group, you will see which of its mentors are available at any given time. You will be able to pitch your app as a way to enhance the value of non-digital networks by making it easier to utilize said networks. I also think it would be nice to have a “drop-in” feature where the person with office hours would put their phone on speaker and allow anyone to connect without even calling. Let me know if you ever need help brainstorming.

This is a very cool idea.

I'm officially a mentor in a couple communities and suffer the same pain with regards to scheduling.

I'm also mentored and I'm always debating whether if now is a good to talk and I won't bother my mentor.

It could also be used in a paying context. I do a bit of consulting about the saas solution we sell and its ecommerce ecosystem. We are of course happy to reply our customers but sometimes their contractors (particularly more juniors one) are hesitant to inquire about something and fear bothering me, especially when there's a timezone difference.

This tool could serve as a "yes, do "bother" me now, I'm actually open to discussions" indicator in many situations.

I'd suggest extending the indicator to email/slack/text and written communications in general as sometimes mentors or mentoree prefer expressing themselves in written form.

I think there's a market for this "omnichannel availability indicator", in both non profit/free and paid modes.

Please ping me when you release an Android version?

I love the idea of an "omnichannel availability indicator." Thanks so much. I live in NYC, and you can't take phone calls during a 30 min subway ride, but you can definitely answer texts. So it's fitting. And yes, I'll ping you.

Hey there! I’m really interested in this idea, as I hold daily office hours for my free manager mentoring program (shameless plug, link is in my profile).

I have daily sessions and currently use Calendly to handle coordination. It allows me to cap the number of sessions to one per day, while letting people pick slots in my calendar that haven’t been filled by work meetings. It’s worked well to date, but I’m hitting limits of the software as I have other mentors who want to join but calendly doesn’t have great advanced settings to load balance across multiple people with limits.

In essence, I want to be able to have a mentor take up to N calls per day, and rotate between other mentors when that person’s calendar is full. Right now it only lets me set global limits across all team members.

If you’re going to be doing any sort of discovery, I’d love to be listed as well. My email is in my profile if you want to collaborate.

Great idea! Can we follow a person for a limited time only? Say I want to talk to a professional mentor this week. It would be annoying for me to keep getting notifications of their availability after a week. Just a thought!

Yes. You can unfollow them whenever you want. Or simply turn off notifications whenever you want.

Great feature!

This seems great, and honestly like the type of thing that could and should just be integrated into iOS/Android natively for anyone in your contacts etc..

I hope if they steal it from you they make it worth your while.

Totally agree that it should be a feature that is already integrated into your phone.

What is "office hours?" From context it sounds like a conference call timeslot?

When the user holds "office hours," they inform everyone who follows them that they're available to accept calls. It's like a conference call timeslot, but in real time. For example, if you decide to go grocery shopping at 2 PM on Saturday, you can make your timeslot available to everyone who may want to reach you as soon as you walk into the grocery store. You don't need to plan ahead of time.

I really like this idea. What's the tech stack?

Thank you! Ionic + Firebase + Twilio

Smart. Very smart. You'll go far.

Seriously genious!


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