Business loves Microsoft Outlook, and a massive study of public and private sector bureaucrats has confirmed what many already suspected.
Managers enjoy the ability to assign tasks, send follow-ups, and be notified when tasks are completed, but for non-management employees the most desirable feature is the ability to tentatively accept meeting invitations.
“Everyone hates going to meetings. Sometimes even some of the people chairing the meetings hate being there, but they’re expected to run them as proof of oversight,” a public servant explained. “’Tentative’ means suggesting yes while declining to commit.”
A recent-hire from another company agreed. “I suppose it can be a bit of a tease, but ‘tentative’ is also wonderful for people who are too shy or too polite to say no. It’s the easy letdown, like so many other unproductive relationships I’ve backed away from.”
Tentative is also wonderful for avoiding being blacklisted, or worse, absolute dismissal, while simultaneously appearing busy and in-demand.
“Declining meetings can be a career-limiting move, and ‘tentative’ can be your best friend,” said a senior analyst who asked not to be named. “My favourite way to avoid meetings is to intentionally seek conflicting appointments, then tentatively accept them all. That way it’s plausible that I attended something, but it’s not clear what, exactly.”
Microsoft declined requests for comment.