Merging Outlook calendars for successful office communication
Merging Outlook calendars helps in office calendar planning:
- Merging Outlook calendars lets you see other people’s calendars
- It lets you make appointments for others
- It makes it easier to find someone that has availability to do work
- Available time appears as “white space” in the calendar
- It’s easy to merge Outlook calendars
- There are benefits to merging calendars, but there are many limitations
- In this article we show how to merge Outlook calendars, and how to overcome the limitations
What can Outlook Data be used for?
The data available in Outlook should be able to be used to provide insight into an organization’s workforce: resource activity, availability, productivity, utilization, team performance, customer / project work and more.
Although the raw data for all of this is available in Outlook, it is not accessible within Outlook, but there are a few options:
How to merge calendars in Outlook
- In your Outlook calendar, click on the File tab
- Click Options
- Click Advanced
- Under Export, click Export
- Click Export to a file, and then click Next
- Click Outlook Data File (.pst), and then click Next
- Click the calendar folder that you want to export, clear the Include subfolders check box, and then click Next
- In the Save exported file as box, enter a folder location and file name, or click Browse to select a folder and enter the file name
- Click Finish
How do Merged Outlook Calendars Work?
Merging calendars is great for your work and your personal google calendar into one. However, if you want to view work colleagues’ calendars, merging ends up showing multiple overlapping appointments. This makes a merged calendar very cumbersome and confusing, however, there is a better way to view work colleagues’ calendars.
This is an example of Outlook in merged or ‘Overlay’ mode. This is for just 4 calendars, and as you can see, the calendar is very confusing.
Using Discrete Outlook Calendars Instead of Merged Calendars
If you need to view calendars of other work colleagues, displaying discrete calendars for each person avoids the drawbacks of merged calendars. Viewing discrete calendars works well for viewing under five people over one or two days, but gets slower the more people you add and you are limited as to how many days you can view.
Outlook’s multi-calendar mode makes it easier to see what each person, but harder to find free time on a particular date. It’s clearer than overlay mode, but not ideal.
In a previous article, we outlined 12 important limitations in Outlook multi-calendars along with possible ways to work around them. Some of the most important limitations are:
- Outlook has limits to the number of calendars or days you can view
- There are only five appointment types in Outlook
- Outlook has no customer or project fields in appointments
- There is no security at the appointment level in Outlook
- There is no reporting in Outloook
What is the best way to view multiple Outlook calendars over days / weeks?
Outlook’s merge calendar feature works well for individuals, but not so well if you want to look at or manage work colleagues’ calendars. Discrete calendars is better, but is very limited.
Many organizations have asked us to help them gain better real-time visibility of their workforce, and provide the analytics they need to manage them. To solve this, we created Whitespace® for Outlook, a simplified version of our Whitespace® resource scheduling system. This can be added to existing Office 365 Outlook implementations to provide instant visibility of the entire workforce without affecting users, changing the way they use Outlook, or requiring any end user installation or training.
How Timewatch’s Whitespace® Improves Upon Outlook Merged Calendars
Timewatch’s Whitespace® for Outlook system provides real-time views of employee Outlook calendars, showing more calendars over greater periods than Outlook, as well as providing real-time analytics and reporting.
Whitespace® for Outlook allows companies to view large teams of people over days, weeks, or months.
Timewatch’s Whitespace® system displays multiple calendars very clearly. This example shows more calendars than Outlook over twice as many days. Each person’s calendar is very clear and it is easy to see who is doing what, when and where people have free time.
Whitespace® for Outlook can also provides advanced functionality including: availability, productivity and utilization views, employee group / skills views, conflict resolution, enhanced security, analytics, reporting and even time tracking and time & billing – all features not possible in Outlook itself.
A company-wide alternative
Timewatch’s Whitespace ® system overcomes functional limits in Outlook by adding powerful resource scheduling features. Available to any organization that uses Office 365 or Exchange, Whitespace ® adds the following:
- Configurable multi-employee views over days/weeks/months
- New appointment fields including Customer & Project
- Employee Skills matrix
- Powerful availability search tools
- Schedule by combination or requirements – skills, location, proximity, availability etc.
- Utilization and availability views
- Conflict management system
- Additional appointment types
- Reporting on Outlook calendars
Want to Learn More?
Timewatch has over 20 years experience developing add-ons for Outlook and helping customers broaden their use of Outlook. Even if you are interested in just one or two of the Outlook enhancements listed above Whitespace® can help. The system is configurable, so you can start with a simple configuration and add more functions as you need them.
If you have any questions or want to see the system in operation, contact us via chat, or book a free consultancy call with a product specialists.
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