Last year, the Peak Team implemented a new shared calendaring system using standard event categories in the spirit of balancing our workload, improving our ability to provide coverage for each other, and having better communication about our schedules. Now that the City is implementing hybrid schedules, we modified our standards to include an indication of where we’ll be working to make scheduling meetings easier.
We want to share what we did with you so you can do it too! And the good news is, this is nothing fancy. We simply leveraged the tool that we were already using (aka Outlook), and set some standards to increase efficiency. If you want to learn how we’re handling hybrid scheduling, read on!
Enabling Team Access to Calendars
First, things first, we gave everybody on our team full access to our calendars. It’s best if you do this. However, if you don’t, they will still be able to see your availability, but not necessarily additional helpful details for level loading or providing coverage for you. Take a chance and build some trust with your team while also increasing efficiency! To share your calendar with your team:
- Click on “Share Calendar” in your calendar.
- Click on the “Permissions” tab. Click through each team member and set their permissions status to “can view all details”. If you do not see a teammate in the list, you can click “Add” to find them in the directory.
Tip: if you’re worried about your team seeing particular events on your calendar, you can use the “private” feature at the event level and this prevents all viewers (even ones will full access) from seeing anything except the time when you have a private event.
Setting Availability to “Working Elsewhere”
Next, we created calendar appointments for the times when we will be working away from the office. If there is nothing on the calendar indicating that somebody is working elsewhere, we assume they will be working in the office and available for in-person meetings. To set your availability to “working elsewhere”:
- Create a new appointment on your calendar, title it “Working from Home” (or wherever you are working) and use the “Show As” drop-down menu to select “Working Elsewhere”. This will change the look of your calendar for anybody that can view it, and it will reflect in your availability when people try to schedule meetings with you.
Tip: If you are working offsite for the entire day, create an all-day event. If you are just working offsite for a portion of the day, create an event that spans the specific hours you’ll be offsite.
Checking if Somebody is Working Offsite When Scheduling a Meeting
Moving forward, when we schedule meetings with colleagues, we’ll look to see if they are working offsite and set up a virtual, hybrid, or in-person meeting according to everybody’s location indicators. To do this:
- Create your new meeting request as you normally would. When you click on the “Scheduling Assistant” tab, colleagues’ statuses will show up as “Working Elsewhere” if they have used that categorization for their time (see the key at the bottom of the meeting request).
- If you see colleagues are working elsewhere, you should schedule a virtual or hybrid, rather than an in-person, meeting.
Tip: If a colleague has shared their calendar with you, you can also see if they are working elsewhere and see additional details (such as the specific location of where they are working) in the main calendar view by displaying their calendar alongside yours.
To be sure, there will be some adjustments as we all shift how we work again. But with good, visual management that enables hands-off (passive) communication, we can certainly make it easier!