It’s two o’clock. Do you know where your coworkers are? 2020 presented scheduling challenges that many of us were new to; 2021 has an improved set of shared calendar apps to meet those challenges.
Teams can have a hard time keeping track of each other nowadays, especially when so many people are working from home. Almost everyone has their own digital calendars, but not everyone has the same one and they’re not all designed for business use. So, how do you stay in touch and on the same page?
Shared calendar apps are the best solution. They let you see other people’s availability, create meetings accordingly and communicate about those events without manually copying information from one platform to the next. No more email threads or text chains to find out if team members are free at a particular time — just click, share, and get back to what you do best.
There are many shared calendar apps out there and they all claim to make life easier for you and your team. Here’s how to tell that an app is going to make good on that promise.
The purpose of a shared calendar app is to save you time. Look for one that’s simple to use and has an intuitive interface. Ease of navigation is particularly important because it lets you streamline scheduling without adding a learning curve.
Schedule coordination is job number one for your shared calendar app. Look for a tool that can handle availability pooling and shared event coordination, ideally with the ability to share documents and links within the app.
An auto-sync feature makes any collaboration tool better, but it’s even more important for scheduling. Look for a tool that syncs your updates across devices on your account and across the accounts of other team members.
Look for an app that will also integrate with other apps that your team uses. For example, if you host a lot of meetings on Zoom, look for an app that will auto-generate and auto-update Zoom meeting details.
A shared calendar app should let you perform your usual scheduling functions more quickly than you did before. When you’re shopping around for shared calendars, look for one that will let you do things like:
Check team members’ availability at a glance
Create multiple calendars
Automatically send and receive reminders
Customize meeting types and durations
Even if your team uses the same devices at work, members might have different platforms on their phones and personal computers. A cross-platform app will be easier to use in more places.
It’s not always easy to find a platform that has all of these features, but that’s what you’ll get with any of the calendars listed below. Each one has a slightly different interface and intent, and you may even find that they work better in combination than they do alone.
Calendly is a scheduling tool that lets you set up meetings without the usual back-and-forth emailing. Just set your availability and Calendly will create a personalized calendar that people can access either by link or directly in the body of your emails. All your team members have to do is check your calendar and choose a time to set up a meeting.
Team scheduling with Calendly is just as simple. Each team member gets a personal scheduling page where they can set up their availability. From there, you can see everyone’s availability on a single page. With just a few clicks, you can choose one or more team members and set up a meeting at a time when everyone's free.
Calendly makes it easy for you and people outside your organization to set up meetings with your team. Because the tool has everyone’s availability, you can auto-assign the meeting to a particular team member. It’s also easy to schedule group meetings, training sessions and panel interviews.
You can easily integrate Calendly with many of the productivity tools your team uses. The most commonly used integrations include Zoom and GoToMeeting, as well as:
Integrations mean that Calendly is easier for your team to incorporate and can save you more time by folding directly into your existing workflows.
Asana is primarily a team and project management app with related calendar functions. You can organize your work using Boards, which let you visualize and categorize what you and your team are working on. Tasks are shareable and assignable so that everyone knows what needs to get done and who needs to do it.
Asana also lets you create shared team calendars, so it’s easy to visualize who’s working on what and when.
Credit: Asana https://tinyurl.com/asanacalendar
You can view tasks, projects and due dates in a calendar format. The calendar view even has drag-and-drop functionality, so you can move due dates and timelines according to changing project demands.
Pro tip: If you integrate Asana with Calendly via Zapier, you can add meeting times to tasks automatically.
Teamup is designed exclusively to be a shared calendar. It doesn’t give you task management capabilities like Asana or easy scheduling like Calendly, but what it does do — shared schedule management — it does very well.
Teamup is easy to set up and start using. You can create a calendar and share it with your team members in just seconds. From there, you can:
Organize users into groups
Color-code calendars and sub-calendars
Share full calendars or single events
Add events to one calendar or multiple calendars
Edit events using drag-and-drop
One of the most appealing aspects of Teamup is its flexibility. Admins can customize access permissions for different users.
Teamup also gives you 10 calendar views, including:
It’s easy for users to configure and reconfigure their views based on their schedule management needs in the moment.
Toggl Plan, formerly Teamweek, is a fully functional team planner designed for collaboration on the go. It lets your team visualize who is working on what and when, so you know who’s busy and who might have the bandwidth for a new project.
Credit: Toggl Plan https://toggl.com/plan/product#project-management
With Toggl Plan, you can:
Set the duration for a project
Upload files and add comments
Tag team members with mentions
Add milestones to keep yourself on track
View your work calendar by week, month, quarter or year
Toggl Plan integrates with many popular apps including Trello, Google Calendar and Slack.
The Google Calendar app in G Suite is a lot like the individual Google Calendar that your team members might use. The G Suite version adds robust team functionality, including the ability to check coworkers’ availability and layer calendars so you can see everyone’s schedules at once. Other shared scheduling features include:
Easy booking of meeting rooms, conference equipment and other shared resources
Suggested meeting times based on team members’ availability
Syncing with personal Google Calendar accounts
Pop-up event reminders
Shared calendars with universal or select access
Google Calendar for G Suite also makes it easy to share calendars and publish them on the web, a useful function if you have events or classes to publicize. The app also offers integration with Calendly, so it’s easy to use Google Calendar to schedule meetings with anyone.
The one caveat is that Google Calendar for G Suite isn’t available as a stand-alone product. You need a subscription to G Suite to access it. The plus side is that a subscription also gives you access to other useful G Suite tools like Meet, Drive, Apps Script and Currents.
Outlook works well as an individual or shared calendar app. It has all of the features you’d expect from a digital calendar, including color-coded sub-calendars and automated reminders.
The difference between Outlook and many other digital calendars is that it’s built for business, so it has shared calendar functionality built into the concept. You can:
Create dedicated calendar folders for specific teams or projects
Share your entire calendar with people inside or outside your organization
Allow people to edit your events and appointments
Like Google Calendar for G Suite, Outlook lets you publish your calendar to your web page and can integrate with your Calendly account. Here's more on syncing your iCloud calendar with outlook.
Any of these shared calendar apps can make life easier for your team, but they all offer something different. Before taking the plunge, it’s important to take stock of what your team needs in a shared calendar and what features are must-haves.
For some teams, it’ll be important to have a shared calendar that’s already connected to legacy systems, like Google Calendar or Outlook. For others, workflow-focused tools like Asana or Toggl Plan will help manage complex projects.
Remember, you can use many of these tools in combination. Asana integrates with Calendly, as do Google and Outlook calendars. If you adopt multiple new systems, you might find that you can streamline your workflow in new and exciting ways. In the end, it’s all about staying connected efficiently so that your team can accomplish more.
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