Best practices for shared google calendars in a small office.
February 18, 2016 4:10 AM   Subscribe

This is one of those questions that seems like it should be so simple, but for some reason we can't figure it out. What is the best practice so all our staff can have shared calendars from their primary calendar and invite each other to events as an office, without creating a multitude of 'duplicate' events?

We're a small office of ten people. Google apps is running everything. Everyone in the business uses their 'primary' calendar (The one you can't delete which is associated with your email address) as their shared calendar, and shares it with everyone else in the office. This is so we know what appointments they have and whether they will be in and out.

For example receives an invite for a meeting from an external client. They accept it, and then everyone else in the office can see that john will be out at a meeting.

Awesome, that works great. Where things get super annoying is when we are trying to schedule internal meetings with each other. Say I,, want to schedule a meeting with john. I send a calendar invite which he accepts. Now, everyone's calendar sees two events - The one in my calendar and the one in his. When we need to schedule company-wide meetings, which we do often, then we have a timeslot with ten overlapping events displaying on everyone's calendar, and now you just can't even read what the event actually is!

I know we're doing something really stupidly wrong here, but I can't figure out what it actually is - Can anyone help? :)
posted by LongDrive to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Create a team account ( that contains internal team meetings and set everyone up to subscribe/edit that calendar...thus nobody is invited, but everyone has that information in their own calendar and it's just one meeting.

The alternative is just to enable only your personal calendar as the "default" view and then turn on other people's shared calendars as you need them.
posted by scrittore at 4:50 AM on February 18, 2016

We did consider the team account, however that only works for entire team meetings. We often have to schedule teams with just segments of the office at certain times, so that seems to take it off the table.

Not sure what you mean exactly by your alternative suggestion, however the idea of turning on/off calendars seems a bit awkward for the purpose of being able to quickly look at the calendar and see what the day has in store.

That said, if there is an app solution that we should be looking at - happy to entertain this! I should mention At the moment we are all using Sunrise for OSX and IOS
posted by LongDrive at 4:56 AM on February 18, 2016

One of you could create a Team Meeting calendar and share it with the others. Then each of you could display it on your own view.

LMK if you want screen shots or anything of how this works.
posted by rw at 5:20 AM on February 18, 2016

Exchange works the same way. If you have 5 calendars viewable on yours, and all six of you are going to the same meeting, you'll see six of that meeting. I only turn on other calendars when I need to see them to schedule an appointment. Do you really need to see what every body else is doing all the time?
posted by COD at 5:29 AM on February 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

We have a team calendar and we just create meetings in there and use colour coding and initials for noting who is involved. E g grey for stuff that each of us is doing that others shouldn't overbook us for, but that no one else needs to attend, red for stuff that involves everyone, and blue for subgroups.

I also set up a script that auto copies everything with my initials to my personal calendar so that I get notifications properly but that does lead to the doubling of events issue when both calendars are on. It's never more than two, though.
posted by lollusc at 5:57 AM on February 18, 2016

Not sure what you mean exactly by your alternative suggestion, however the idea of turning on/off calendars seems a bit awkward for the purpose of being able to quickly look at the calendar and see what the day has in store.

I have thirteen calendars synced to my Google Apps account, most of which I don't need all day every day. For colleagues - I only need to see their calendar if I am looking for them or trying to schedule a meeting. This is really easy to do in Sunrise.
posted by scrittore at 6:12 AM on February 18, 2016

I think your issue is that you're just displaying too many calendars. That's not the intended use of any calendaring system beyond like 3 people or so.

Here's what we did in a larger office:

Ensure that free/busy information is shared by everybody's calendar, at the least. We also displayed event details but that's slightly more transparent and not really necessary.

Only display your calendar, and maybe the calendars of people you absolutely want to track all the time (ex: I would track my direct reports, but often would toggle their display so it wouldn't clutter my view)

Make use of the "Find a Time" tab when you make an event. This is best done by first adding your intended Guests and Rooms, then turning on the Find a Time tab, and seeing where a schedule gap exists.
posted by odinsdream at 7:02 AM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

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