Since ancient times, calendars have been used to help people stay aligned and work together to successfully execute projects — like harvests or pyramid building. As the world of work began to evolve, calendars themselves needed some sort of alignment.
The Gregorian calendar we use today was adopted during George Washington’s lifetime — it’s pretty new. Before, Europe mostly used the Julian calendar. But every year it, slipped farther away from the Jewish calendar and Equinoxes, causing a mess. The Gregorian calendar corrected this and everyone moved over, except England. That was fine until a leap year shifted the country 11 days off from everyone else. So George Washington was born on February 11 on the Julian Calendar, but we celebrate his birthday on February 22.
See the problem?
While 2 birthdays would be great, imagine a business world where everyone used different calendars. It just wouldn’t work. And yet, with 43% of teams working remotely, often in different time zones, we expect them to collaborate, coordinate, and communicate effectively without the right calendar capabilities to manage all of their different projects.
According to our study on employee stress in the workplace, the top stressor is poor communication, even though 98% of managers spend up to 87% of their work week on communication alone.
Our teams need tools that do more than just mark a due date. They need help managing projects and collaborating. The right team calendar tool can do that, but finding the right one and setting it up to balance efficiency and visibility can be a challenge. Here are 3 capabilities to look for in the best team calendars.
3 capabilities of the best team calendars
Create, color-code, and layer multiple team calendars
As anyone who‘s tried to get their team's to-dos and due dates visually aligned on a calendar can attest, it can be overwhelming both visually and administratively. Keeping a calendar updated and clean is a huge undertaking, which makes tools like Excel or Google Calendar challenging for team work-management needs.
Imagine how overwhelming a content marketing calendar could be, for example. From ebooks to blog posts, case studies, emails, promotions, webinars, and more, if the calendar is just a series of due dates, it’s hard to visualize and manage dependencies and overlapping work. While it’s important to have all of this work in one place to get a full picture of workload, each piece of content requires a vastly different approach. You’ll want to ensure you can optimize and strategize each as separate entities.
What’s wrong with just having a long to-do list and not optimizing the calendar for each type of content? Well, content marketing generates 3x more leads and costs 62% less compared to outbound marketing, and only 9% of marketers have developed a systematic content management process, from production to distribution. That means there are leads and revenue being left on the cutting-room floor. So how can you maximize your ROI?
Our content marketing team at Wrike, for example, uses Wrike Calendars. Instead of having all those assets on one big calendar, the team creates individual calendars for each type. Then color-codes and layers each calendar to get a single view that clarifies deadlines and dependencies. The team can see all their calendars layered all together, layered as needed, or one at a time.
With so many varying projects and assets, layering calendars makes it easy to identify scheduling conflicts. But you also view by status, channel, audience, and more. This helps separate work so that the team can get both a bird’s-eye view or get into the nitty gritty of the details as needed — all in real time.
The team alignment doesn’t stop at tasks and due dates. You can layer on other key calendars, like team vacation calendars to manage workloads and ensure nothing falls through the cracks if someone is out of the office. The ability to add on or remove layers helps your team hone their strategy. You can choose to see everything your team is doing, or simplify it to help everyone focus without getting distracted by a messy calendar.
Key capabilities to look for:
- A tool that allows you to create and color-code different calendars by status, channel, audience, or project type.
- The ability to easily view different calendars individually or layered on top of one another.
Connect shared calendars to underlying projects and tasks so everything is connected and up to date — no matter what
Traditional calendars are great for planning meetings and organizing your day. But no matter how hard we try, our days and tasks rarely go as planned. Our work is constantly shifting, and while manually updating our own calendars might be manageable, your team needs more when it comes to managing their work.
When managing your team’s work within a rigid traditional calendar, you’ll find yourself wasting time updating it and moving things around or ignoring it all together. Instead of acting as a single source of truth that keeps your team aligned, the calendar becomes an awkward administrative tool that needs to be painstakingly and continually updated and organized.
The truth is, you don’t simply set due dates and leave them there. Our study of the professional services industry reported that 97% of projects are delayed to some extent. As much as we try to stay on target, things happen — all the time, to almost everyone. Whether you’re moving a due date because of a delay or simply need to switch a few things around, your team calendar should make this easy for you.
An integrated campaign team is a great example of a team with ever-shifting due dates. They’re working cross-functionally with other teams like content, sales, product, and more. With a ton of moving project pieces and campaigns launching at once, it’s key that they’re able to keep their calendars up in real time to make scheduling between so many teams a breeze. So how can they keep everything up to date without any extra work?
As an example, Wrike’s integrated campaigns team keeps everything aligned by using Wrike Calendars within the collaborative work management platform. When they build a project in Wrike, they can set dependencies and due dates within the task. Simply switching to a calendar view automatically populates the calendar. If they ever need to move a task, they can either drag and drop it in the calendar view, or switch the date in the task and it will change automatically on the calendar.
This ease of use makes keeping the best team calendars up to date effortless. An added bonus? Because you can set tasks within your project management calendar to be dependent, when you drag and drop one task on the calendar, all dependent tasks automatically adjust. Rescheduling has never been quicker.
Let’s say you're working on a product launch. You have emails, press releases, blogs, videos, sales training, and more, all dependent on one another. If one of these areas has a delay, it impacts other teams and tasks. Having a calendar that’s connected to your project management tool makes it easy to align efforts and prevent deadlines from falling through the cracks. Instead of spending time updating siloed calendars or sending updates to stakeholders, you can use Wrike Calendars to house all the related information, files, and conversations so it’s easy for your team to jump from the calendar right into work.
Using a shared calendar app in a work management tool like Wrike, you’ll find that scheduled tasks contain all related information, files, and conversations internal teams may need. Deadline changes made directly within tasks are automatically populated, which means everyone can see the most up-to-date plans and schedules. This saves loads of time team members might spent trying to track down task information or ask for updates.
Key capabilities to look for:
- A team calendar that provides the best possible information via your work management tool so you can click on the calendar items and dive into tasks.
- Drag-and-drop capabilities that make it easy to adjust due dates in a calendar view.
- The ability to set dependencies so that changing due dates automatically update dependent tasks.
Share work internally and externally with real-time visibility
We’ve all experienced working with a variety of teams or clients with drastically different needs when it comes to project visibility. Some want to see every little detail and be able to dive deep into the weeds. Others simply want a high-level understanding of things like due dates or progress. A flexible calendar acts like a collaborative chameleon so you don’t have to change your processes and tools to suit these different requirements.
As we mentioned in the last section, having your calendar connected to or within your work management tool is key. The next level is a calendar that you can flexibly share internally and externally. When it comes to communicating timelines and due dates, a team calendar is one of the best ways to universally visualize a project across teams.
Professional services teams know all too well the importance of keeping diverse teams in the loop without overloading them or violating data privacy. In our professional services survey, the top 3 reasons for customer churn are: projects going over budget or deadline, communication difficulties or delays, and lack of visibility into project status.
Transparency is key. You need to keep both internal and external stakeholders in the loop, and you need a calendar that lets you control how much information is shared. Professional services teams, for example, like to give their clients a high-level overview of project progress without overwhelming them with details. But some clients want to see all those nitty-gritty details.
You’ll want a calendar that offers both an internal and external link to make sharing easy. With Wrike, for example, you can create an external link and share it with stakeholders even if they don’t have a Wrike account. As an admin, you control the visibility for external partners. You can set it up so external stakeholders can see calendar task names but not click through for more information on the project. This gives other teams or clients a visual but helps avoid any security risks or overwhelming anyone. External links update automatically as a project changes so you can easily keep vendors, clients, and other outside parties up to date on your project progress.
Being able to share calendars makes collaboration and coordination efforts across teams and clients easier. Calendars help you keep track of what needs to be worked on and when, stay in sync, and visualize your project schedule. When stakeholders can visualize a project in a calendar view versus having to scan a list of to-dos, they can more easily spot roadblocks or bottlenecks. They can see how everything connects and will unfold, which gives them confidence and motivates everyone to stay on top of work.
Key capabilities to look for:
- A team calendar that creates internal and external links that you can share with other teams or clients.
- The ability to set privacy levels and define how deeply you want external teams to be able to dig.
Team calendars help you go from survive to thrive
More workers than ever before are working remotely, cross-functionally, and across countries. Some companies have thrived in this new world order, while others fight to survive. A recent HBR article found that communication and coordination are the keys for companies to bridge the gap between barely surviving and fully thriving — and the right team calendar tool can help with both.
When everyone in your company is using their flexible team calendars within a work management solution, they can start to establish well-defined workflows that make communication, coordination, and collaboration seamless — across time zones, offices, teams, and more.
Moral of the story? Don’t be like 18th-century England and end up 11 days behind your competition. Start your free 2-week trial of Wrike today and get all your teams aligned with Wrike Calendar. Your team will be thriving in no time.
What are some of the different ways your team use calendars? Let us know in the comments below! Also, check out our follow-up posts: