A calendar is a type of SharePoint list that comes as an out-of-the-box tool with any SharePoint site. Use a calendar to keep track of meetings, events, personnel schedules, company holidays, conference room reservations, and more in a central, online place. Best yet, you can connect any SharePoint calendar to Outlook (multiple, even) and overlay it with your own personal appointments.
Watch the video below or continue reading for the best SharePoint calendar info on the interwebs.
Why calendars are useful
SharePoint calendars offer you a place to keep track of various events, schedules, and more. Because a calendar is simply a special type of SharePoint list, you can customize a calendar to include added input fields (columns) so you can filter, sort, and group your entries based on various categories, keywords, authors, time stamps, and the like.
Calendars display in the typical graphical layout of a printed calendar by default, but you can also view any calendar as a typical SharePoint list (rows and columns with column headers that support filter, group, and sort). This flexibility offers you the option to view the calendar in a graphical, big-picture way, or get down into the nitty-gritty of a regular SharePoint list-style view.
Hate it when someone sends your entire department a five-day appointment letting you know they’re going on vacation? It’s not just annoying: if they weren’t clever enough to change the default settings, the appointment will list you as busy in Outlook for five full days. (Or, you can turn down the appointment, but then you lose the dates they’re out.)
Fear not! There is a good alternative: keep track of who’s in and who’s out by having your employees or colleagues log planned absences in a SharePoint calendar. You can even add various columns to get further detail, then create views that sort, filter, or group based on that input.
For example, include a checkbox for training and conferences, or one for whether you’re using personal/vacation time. This can give you an idea of how available these people are on those given days. Hell, if you really want to know whether people are available, add another checkbox called “Available”. Then, include a field that identifies who your backup is while you’re out. Make all of these required fields and you’ll have robust, dependable info. It’s especially handy come the November/December holiday times so you know with just a glance who’s in the office and who’s not.
Note: Even if you have a formal process for requesting time off (say, through ADP or an internally developed tool), this solution is still useful because you can see the list of planned absences all in one place, whether in your browser or in Outlook. If you’re a manager, keep in mind that it can be helpful for your direct reports to see each others’ schedules. Many other tools don’t offer big-picture views that are available to anyone outside of an employee’s management chain.
Conference and team room reservations
Conference space: it’s the bane of basically every employee’s existence. Reserving them can be frustrating for a multitude of reasons. You can set them up as resources in Outlook, but if your IT team doesn’t know how or your colleagues don’t catch on to how to do that, it can be for naught.
Instead, you can easily use a SharePoint calendar to set up reservations for a conference or team room. You can give everyone access to edit it, or limit edit access to a select few room “owners”, restricting everyone else to read-only. That means they can see whether the room’s available, but will have to put in a request to the room owners for a reservation. I’ve seen both methods work well.
This solution requires some behavioral standards that everyone needs to follow. You can get everyone on board by taping a note on the door reminding colleagues that reservations must be made in the SharePoint calendar. Just link prominently to the calendar from your team or company SharePoint site so everyone know where to go.
You can even assign a designated person to print the daily schedule each morning and tape it to the door so everyone knows who has dibs when. (Or, better yet, when the room’s available for an impromptu meeting.)
How to do it
Creating a calendar
Adding to and editing calendar items
Connecting a calendar to Outlook
Note: This operation only works in Internet Explorer. The button will appear disabled if you’re using Firefox or Chrome. If, after trying this on IE, it’s still greyed out, try pressing F5 (full refresh). It’s a hiccup with a feature Microsoft included to speed up load times.
- Plan ahead: Don’t just dive into a new calendar willy-nilly. You should really plan the intended use of them ahead of time, add any columns that you think are necessary, and decide whether a calendar meets your intended goal. You may want to consider more than one calendar if you have a lot of
To me, SharePoint calendars are probably one of the most misleading and disappointing of the list templates that SharePoint provides. To be clear, they are super useful. My issue is that’s I’ve always expected more functionality and have never gotten it from Microsoft. And they haven’t really upgraded calendars since, other than upgrading to the standard ribbon functionality. I’ve listed a number of things you should keep in mind when planning to use a SharePoint calendar; read them here.