Work calendar etiquette: Do you share your calendar? How?
April 29, 2016 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Do you share the details of your work calendar? Or just free / busy status? Does it depend on the person or event? I'd love to get some idea of the norms in this area.

I am going from a small company environment to a larger team (with many of the same team members). There is no "boss" who sets policy here. I used to share the details of appointments on my work calendar with my entire team, but I don't want to with this larger group.

I'm wondering if or how to announce a change to free / busy status only. Should I be concerned about the norm this sets for everyone?

How do you handle calendar sharing at your job? Is it detail or free / busy only?
How have you liked team leaders to handle it when you worked for them?
posted by 3491again to Work & Money (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I share mine but there's nothing very top secret there. People here who do things that maybe need to be kept secret (negotiating with external partners, etc) usually only publish free/busy.

I don't have a strong opinion on it although it's always interesting when you learn something not-yet-public from looking through calendars in the process of trying to find time for a meeting. Which I guess is why people go free/busy only.
posted by GuyZero at 10:21 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would just share free/busy and wouldn't announce anything/be concerned about anything.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 10:23 AM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

just make the change--no need to announce.
once you make the change, you will quickly see if there are any ongoing issues with your staff needing to see details.
and you get to decide if the issues are compelling enough to show your appointment details again.
posted by calgirl at 10:24 AM on April 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

I share my full calendar with my immediate team and free/busy with everyone else. But I also mark anything that's personal (doctor's appointments, etc) as private and they just show up as busy with no other information for everyone.

I wouldn't make an kind of announcement when you change your settings - just do it and move forward without comment.
posted by machine at 10:25 AM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Totally normal to only share free/busy status with everyone, underlings & bosses included. Nobody needs to know the details of your meetings that specifically. (Among awkward things, I know people who found out they were being discussed for things because calendar details of someone involved were public). I think it would be super weird to announce the change. I think the norm should be it is not shared. If someone wants to know, they can always ask?
posted by brainmouse at 10:29 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I share mine, mostly out of habit, as I had previously been in a position where 3 people were scheduling my time to do on-site sales presentations, so they needed to see quickly when I was traveling or otherwise busy. I use the private setting often.

I had asked a previous boss to share his, as he was someone who blocked out huge swathes of time on his calendar to keep time for focused working on a project he and I were heavily collaborating on, so I needed to see if he was busy or just "busy".

Otherwise, it isn't a big deal to me either way. I barely even notice if people do or don't. And would unlikely notice if anyone switched.
posted by chiefthe at 10:40 AM on April 29, 2016

As an assistant who supports three execs and has a small stable of other EVPs I have to include in a lot of meetings, I love it when they share. I like getting the full info rather than free/busy because it's useful to know what the conflict is. An informal internal meeting can be bumped, or they can not attend, in favor of the international corporate overlords coming in from overseas for a quarterly review. Rather than twisting myself in knots over minor scheduling conflicts.

If there's nobody else who needs to know the intimate details of your schedule, then IDK probably don't?
posted by Sara C. at 10:41 AM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I do share my calendar, though some people here only have free/busy visible. I think it's useful to share, because it's easier to see when you're trying to set up meetings whether someone has something that's carved in stone or moveable. You can always mark something private if you need to.

I only put work stuff on my work calendar. I run a Google calendar (two, actually: personal and family) for all the non-work stuff. Then if that stuff happens during work hours I'll just put "out of office" on my work calendar to make sure that block doesn't get scheduled.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:49 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think it's useful to share, because it's easier to see when you're trying to set up meetings whether someone has something that's carved in stone or moveable.
I love it when they share. I like getting the full info rather than free/busy because it's useful to know what the conflict is. An informal internal meeting can be bumped, or they can not attend, in favor of the international corporate overlords coming in from overseas for a quarterly review.

As a follow-up, this is actually one of the big reasons why I DON'T share - people looking at just who's in the meeting or the meeting title don't know if that meeting is important or not. I've gotten meetings moved that have been alarmingly difficult to set up or are about something critical and can't wait because someone looking at the calendar thought they looked moveable. I have no doubt that it's more work for the schedulers of these meetings to ask me, but I also don't want those people to decide for me what's important and what isn't.
posted by brainmouse at 10:53 AM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

We include details for everyone at our smallish office (~20 full time people). I find it useful because it's accepted in my workplace that if you're scheduling an important meeting with external people you can schedule over small, recurring internal meetings if there aren't other good options--though typically I'll check first. My job also requires me to work with pretty much everyone for different things, so it's useful to know if they'll be out of the building all morning or if they're going to have a particularly crazy day/week and I should try to catch them at a different time.
posted by geegollygosh at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2016

I don't share details but I'm not that important or busy that I have a lot of trouble scheduling meetings. the norm here is not to share. I am careful about marking the appointment as tentative or open/free if it's something like a public presentation that would be interesting but isn't mandatory so others know I'm not truly booked at that time.
posted by katieanne at 11:04 AM on April 29, 2016

I can't understand how a normal, competent, positive, well-adjusted team player would ever find the time in the day to look over your calendar appointments beyond busy/free. It's always been my experience that information is shared on a "need to know" basis only. There are a number of reasons for that, but the biggest one is that everyone is drowning in an overwhelming flood of information, all the time. They don't need to know if it doesn't help them with their task at hand.
posted by My Dad at 11:14 AM on April 29, 2016

I share all mine and my colleagues who only share free/busy drive me to distraction because it often matters what I'm scheduling something adjacent to.

My feeling is: we don't work in HR or counterintelligence, we're working together on multiple client projects, there's nothing to be kept private. And if it IS, like when I put my hair appointment on my Outlook or whatever, click the little lock.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have always made the whole thing public because I know what it's like to set up meetings and I find the info helpful when I'm doing that. But in my experience (lots of different types of offices and industries over many years) it doesn't matter if I share or not. In reality nobody is looking for that information or using it. They will either ask me if I'm free or just invite me whether or not I'm free. I'm surprised to see so many people in here saying different. So basically my advice is that there are no universal norms or etiquette- it depends on that office culture and your personal comfort level.
posted by bleep at 11:40 AM on April 29, 2016

Although I don't think about it this way at the time, sharing the details of my calendar with you means that I trust you enormously. But it's the gesture rather than the actual information. It's not like I'm writing "EMBARRASSING RASH TREATMENT AT BUTT DOCTOR." (That's what the family Google calendar is for.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:06 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've never shared mine, but in my last work group we did have a shared calendar for Out of Office. I found that pretty useful.
posted by sm1tten at 12:10 PM on April 29, 2016

My boss is a micromanager, so any time that I (or anyone else in my department) do not account for on a shared calendar results in a group chat asking what we're working on. That's fun. Pretty much ruined the concept of shared calendars for me.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:34 PM on April 29, 2016

I share my full calendar with my boss, administrative support and few other people with whom I coordinate schedules frequently. Everyone else just gets free/busy.

The real security hole for snoops seems to be attachments to the invite. When everyone can read your calendar, then everyone can also read any attachments. Our standard practice is no attachments on invites.
posted by 26.2 at 12:39 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I share my calendar too. It makes scheduling meetings much easier if I know who is free when. If I make a note for myself that I don't want to share - I just mark it private on Outlook (not sure what system/program your company uses). For the free/busy thing, we also have a messaging system at my workplace where you can set your status. If you don't have that sort of set-up, you can add your most frequently contacted coworkers to whatsapp and use whatsapp web for similar "status" updates.
posted by ThatSox at 1:24 PM on April 29, 2016

I never share beyond free/busy. Not even with my manager. I found that if I do, it sets up a dynamic where people feel empowered to make their own assessments of what on my calendar is important--it turns your work schedule into a first bid in a negotiation for time.

It also gives people information they use to draw (often mistaken) conclusions about your assessment of them and the value of their time when they propose a conflicting meeting and you choose the thing that's already on your calendar instead of bumping it.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:42 PM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I share mine, but that's because I use it for everyone's shift scheduling, as well as listing things like special events that need to be covered --- mine is effectively the 'team' calendar, since my coworkers never bother to use their own, and so I've trained them to at least just add to mine if they need to block off their vacation time or whatever. And honestly, I'd rather they add that stuff to my calendar rather then risk something getting missed.
posted by easily confused at 1:51 PM on April 29, 2016

Where I work, the only people who don't share their calendars by default are HR. It would be an extremely weird and eccentric move to hide your calendar appointment details. It took me a few months to get used to this but now it feels very normal.
posted by town of cats at 1:52 PM on April 29, 2016

I'd say this is very dependent on the office culture there. At my workplace, everyone sees free/busy by default, managed by IT. Calendar sharing tends to happen explicitly with group calendars that everyone in a workgroup can post to, like an Out of Office calendar, for example. Otherwise the feeling around here is, if someone's not on the meeting invite and should be, you forward the invite, otherwise there's no real need for anyone not invited to know the specifics.
posted by Aleyn at 2:46 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

At my Large Tech Company, the default is everyone shares their calendar including meeting details. I'm sure sensitive stuff gets blocked. I've never seen anyone share only free/busy status, but I guess it probably happens.

My personal stuff I do in my personal calendar, and block off in my work calendar as events with names like "Unavailable". If its outside work hours I don't put it in my work cal at all of course.

I would think it slightly weird if someone shared free/busy only here because its so rare, but it wouldn't be a big deal. Just kind of "huh?".
posted by thefoxgod at 5:48 PM on April 29, 2016

I share mine, as do most of the people in my office. The few people who seem to do Busy/Free have done so, I believe, due to technical incompetence. We all work as a team, and many times clients who are "ours" need to see a team member, and it's important for us to be able to tell "our" client that yes, you have an appointment with [team-member] at X date and Y time.

If we weren't working that collaboratively, I'd find Busy/Free fine.
posted by lazuli at 6:19 PM on April 29, 2016

I think it's better to share your work calendar with colleagues, and then share your personal calendar with yourself, so you can see both in your work calendar. (This is if you're using Google Calendar; I'm not sure how it would work for other calendar apps.) Any sensitive details can go on events in the personal calendar, so you'll still see everything in the same place if you're looking at your work calendar, but others won't.

Then if there's an event that has sensitive details but you still want it visible on your work calendar (e.g., a doctor's appointment, so people are aware you'll need travel time before and after), I can think of a couple options: 1. set it private, so people can't see the details, but schedule it for longer to block out the travel time, or 2. set it as a public event on your work calendar, so people can see the details and understand that you'll be away from your desk and there'll be transit time, but then invite your private account to the event and add the private details on that copy of the calendar event.

This probably goes without saying, but if you're client-facing, I definitely would not share your calendar with clients, even if it's less convenient to check the details yourself and work out scheduling that way.
posted by limeonaire at 7:21 PM on April 29, 2016

In my small team (at a large organization using Outlook/Exchange) we share free/busy on our individual calendars and also keep a shared calendar where we put events involving the whole team. In general if it's something more than one of us needs to know about it goes on the shared calendar. It's a little clunky because you have to duplicate stuff to your personal calendar to get it on the daily text message agenda (which I like) but it works well enough.
posted by telepanda at 8:09 PM on April 29, 2016

It doesn't matter what the norm is at my workplace (the norm at my workplace is the same as at town of cats's). You should do whatever the norm is at *your* workplace. The only person I know of at my current company who sets their calendar details to "busy" by default is the head of HR. Otherwise, it's only "busy" for confidential meetings. It's very annoying to schedule time with people who have tons of meetings but don't show calendar details.
posted by phoenixy at 12:44 AM on April 30, 2016

Tiny tech/media company, we share even stuff like doctor's appointments. We usually don't mention if it's the butt doctor or not though.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:53 AM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

details with my direct reports, free/busy with everyone else. For sensitive issues, I put something cryptic or generic in the description.

The thing I don't like about Outlook though, is that meeting invites are automatically added to my calendar as tentative before I've seen them. In theory, that can give away sensitive information during that time, but the only people who do that are HR, and they favor the generic descriptions anyway.

I also color-code mine with Outlook's categories feature. Red for non-optional meetings I need to personally be at, orange for optional, green for when I'll send someone in my place but still want to know when it is. Sometimes I add green ones nobody from my group is actually going to go to, but I want to know that it's going on for other people for some reason. So free/busy info is kind of useless - I'm always busy, even when I don't plan to go to any of the meetings myself. But details is even more confusing if you don't know my system.
posted by ctmf at 7:51 PM on April 30, 2016

(I wouldn't doubt if I could change the behavior of automatically tentatively accepting, but I can't really be bothered to look that close when I'm at work and thinking about it.)
posted by ctmf at 7:53 PM on April 30, 2016

Do you share the details of your work calendar? Or just free / busy status? Does it depend on the person or event? I'd love to get some idea of the norms in this area.

My calendar is shared with the department's domain. It'd be shared with the entire university, but we're on a separate gapps, and the rest of the uni uses exchange. I have three calendars: myname@work, which is the default one where meeting invites etc go, Interrupts & tasks, which is a set of tasks I need to do on a weekly basis but is more of a reminder, and myname@gmail, which is my personal events calendar, containing things like lunch appointments and other social affairs. Anything I need to mark as busy on the Work calendar is on myname@work. If I need to keep the event details of say medical events private, it's titled OOO, for Out Of Office.

But I totally admit, I'm a calendar snoop, and I do this out of reciprocity. Esp management's calendars, because what they're discussing with people this week generally translates into surprise deliverables next week.
posted by pwnguin at 12:39 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

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