A short guide to setting up out of office calendars
Calendar channels can be vital to your digital workplace for more than inviting people to meetings. They can give you easy visibility into who's available when, including who's in the office. One of the most common uses we see for sets of Calendar Channels is to set up an out of office area, creating an easy way for Human Resources and everyone else to see who's out today and why.
They can also streamline the process, letting people book time directly in the community, as well as making the details able to be displayed on every page, and even letting teams keep up their own out of office calendars for separate approvals. Today we'll walk through a simple setup, and provide some best practices for moving forward.
The most basic elements are two Calendar Channels and a Page. One of the calendars is for vacation time, while the other is for sick time, giving people two areas to log that time, and making it easily searchable and sortable. You can edit each Channel to add a description, providing instructions on formatting to keep requests consistent.
Use the Settings area of give each Channel a colour, and set the vacation channel to hold content for moderation. Remember to set up Moderators in the sidebar, too. By default, a moderated channel has no moderators, because the people who administrate it may not be the same people who are reviewing and approving content.
Once both channels are configured, it's time to set up the Page. Using a Calendar Events widget, you can create several different views. The Monthly view gives an easy look at who's going to be out of the office coming up, showing vacation time and the like. The Daily view can give you an immediate look at who's out today. Typically the Page is placed in an HR area, but once the Channels are set up, the view can be pulled into any existing Page or Space in your digital workplace.
Once the basics are in place, you can add functionality by:
- Using channel templates to include formatting and additional instructions.
- Placing links to the Add an Article link of each channel in a Links Widget on the homepage or Community Bookmarks, letting people book time from anywhere in your Igloo.
- Adding additional Calendar channels to divide them by team, or accommodate additional kinds of time off (personal days, working from home, whatever you like).
- Storing the Calendar Channels them in individual team spaces stead of in the HR Space, letting department leads approve time off. The calendars can always be pulled into a Page in the HR Space for a centralized view.
There are a few common threads we've seen with successful out of office calendars, the first of which is attentive moderators. In organizations of more than 80 people, we've found that a single vacation calendar doesn't work as well as dividing them up by department or office. Moderators can be inundated with requests, and it can be a challenge to track which ones are relevant to them. Dividing the calendars still gives you the option for a single view on a Page, but keeps the moderation requests relevant to the specific reviewer.
You can streamline adding requests for divided calendars like that by using the Add Button widget, which is only displayed if people have access to add content. They're curated by Access, so people will only see the Add Button they have access to. As well with Access, set the Author access rule on each Calendar Channel to Write, or users will be able to edit their vacation requests after the fact.