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My Manager and other team mates send a meeting request for the duration of time they are unavailable (attending workshop / vacation / Business trip). It automatically gets into my calendar.

Should I accept the request? This might help the person to understand that I am now aware.

The problem is that people will look at my calendar and think I am busy. How to gently tell them not to do so?

  • What country are you in ? – Radu Murzea Jul 2 '15 at 6:56
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    Obviously it depends on the calendar software you are using, but generally you can have an item in your calendar but have it set to show you as "available" for the duration of that item. – Carson63000 Jul 2 '15 at 7:00
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    If you're attending the same meeting/workshop/trip, then yes, accept. Otherwise just decline. They're unavailable, not you. – Edwin Lambregts Jul 2 '15 at 7:40
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    Downvoters: care to explain? I could argue that this could be flagged as off-topic for being company-specific but that doesn't deserve downvoting. – Lilienthal Jul 2 '15 at 10:49
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about using Outlook, not The Workplace. – DJClayworth Jul 2 '15 at 16:10
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Should I accept the request? This might help the person to understand that I am now aware.

Yes, you should accept the request.

The whole point of people sending you this "meeting request" is to put it on your calendar. That way, whenever you look, you'll see that they are out.

This is becoming a reasonably common practice in many shops, including mine. With small teams, it seems to work well.

The problem is that people will look at my calendar and think I am busy.

It won't mark you as busy if the sender sets it up correctly.

Depending on the mail/calendar system you use, the sender can set it up to indicate the time is "Free". On some systems that could be used to mark their absence on your calendar without marking you as "Busy". See: https://support.office.com/en-ca/article/Keep-everyone-informed-about-time-away-from-the-office-69fe38aa-7b5f-4225-8b69-47f47092e65e?ui=en-US&rs=en-CA&ad=CA

Try it - you might find it's a handy way to keep track of who is around and who is not. If you find after a while that it is cumbersome, or doesn't meet the needs of everyone, you could suggest another method.

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Thats a weird way to mark that you are unavailable. What I've always done when using Outlook is to set a meeting in my own calendar and make sure this shows me as unavailable. Users who try to book meetings with me will then see I'm not available during that time. No need to send meeting request to anyone.

The way your collegues are doing it will scale really poorly. How will you handle if the team grows to 10 people? 20? Should you keep meeting appointments and vacations for all of them in your calendar?

If your team decide to keep doing this, I would decline all those requests since you will be able to see their status when you need to know it.

  • This is a horrendous answer. It comes down to company policy. My other half's company (or possibly just department) has a policy of sending calendar requests for being on leave. Declining the request means "I do not approve of you being out of the office at this time". This is not what the OP is looking for! – AndyT Jul 2 '15 at 10:44
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This is a bad way to use the calendar feature. I have known a team that did this, but it was the boss who insisted that every employee on the team send him the times they would not be in the office. The boss was a required attendee. He thought that if he rejected the invitation it would tell that person they couldn't go to that "meeting". That didn't last very long because his calendar was filling up with the appointments of the 20 people that worked for him; and people were still going to the dentist even if he rejected the meeting.

There is a better way. Have a team calendar and have the team put on the calendar when they will be out of the office for non-work events. Everybody can see at one glance who will not be at work today. Also make sure everybody knows where the team calendar is, and that everybody can access it. Of course the employees also update their own calendars so that scheduling meeting still works.

Now if the team has specific staffing requirements; for example at least 3 people must be in the office at all times, then they need to come up with a system that meets their needs so that the schedule maker can do their job.

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    This is absolutely the normal way to do it with the team calendar. Everywhere I have worked utilises this approach. – Jane S Jul 2 '15 at 11:00

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