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I'm working on a team that's distributed across several locations, time zones, and managers. Quite often, some team member needs to know if or or more other team members are generally available, or on leave.

What means can you think of to efficiently make this information available to everyone?

What doesn't work

  1. Individual's Outlook calendar. It's way too clumsy to determine availability of a group of people in this way. You need to start creating a meeting, add the individuals and hope that their calendar is up-to-date. Managers have no easy way of seeing if their team members have put in their vacations.
  2. An Outlook calendar shared by someone. Also clumsy, and doesn't work if people move on.
  3. Excel. Not really. No concurrent access.
  4. The corporate leave management. Not accessible across organizational teams due to missing permissions.

What I don't want/need

Yes, I know there are commercial leave management systems with nice web interfaces. But I don't want to manage people's leave -- that's what HR does. I only want to make leave known to other team members. For instance on Confluence, but how?

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Shared calendars.

There are two mainstream platforms that can host shared calendars:

  • Confluence
  • Sharepoint

They are shared platforms by their own nature, are centralised and what most people don't know is that you can show these calendars in your [own outlook instance](Productivity - Better Outlook - Show meeting room availability right in your calendar https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/productivity-better-outlook-show-meeting-room-right-tiago).

Alternatively, some projects are using Jira Tempo Team planned times to denotes availability. Needless to say, you need to have Jira and the Tempo plug-in available.

Anyways, if you're working on a cross cultural, multi time zone project you might have at least one of the above solutions.

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You can thinking of making some thing exclusive for your team, if it is really a problem for your company. You can self develop custom calendar arrangement product, it is according to how much really you need to share members status between all channel, make a balance between the feasibility and required cost and effort. if the locations of your company are distributed will remain, it is a good choice -in my opinion- to develope needs-driven product.

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