Business owners should constantly be looking for technology to improve the productivity of their employees and their business. While computers and smartphones come with a calendar, it might not be the best option for you or your business. Thankfully, there isn't a shortage of other options.
Shared calendar apps have emerged to make it easier to collaborate with co-workers, schedule meetings and even automate repetitive tasks.
Shared calendar app features you should look for
When considering which shared calendar app to use for your business, look for one that has the following qualities and features:
- Easy to use: Shared calendar apps should be user friendly and intuitive, with minimal navigation and maintenance required. It should also make the collaboration process smooth and straightforward.
- Simple scheduling tools: The primary function of a shared calendar is to organize everyone's schedules, but it should make scheduling simple. One great feature to look for is if the app lets you check the availability of co-workers at a glance. Some other useful tools to look for include customization features, multiple calendar availability, and time- and location-based reminders.
- Collaboration and sharing features: When using a business calendar app, you want to be able to share availability, event invitations or calendars with your team. You also want the ability to collaborate on events, calendars and any documents or projects shared within the app.
- Automatic syncing: Auto-syncing is a great timesaving tool. Ideally, any updates you make to your shared calendar sync with your account, as well as the accounts of anyone else involved. Many calendar apps feature automatic syncing and integration with other apps.
- Cross-platform availability: Not everyone has the same platform, so cross-platform availability is a huge plus. It eliminates the need for multiple apps across platforms while keeping everyone on the same page no matter what device they're using.
If you need a calendar app you can use companywide, consider these eight options that have excellent features and are highly recommended by business owners across different industries.
Asana is more than a shared calendar app. While it has calendar features, it also makes it easy to manage team projects and tasks. The Timeline feature shows every piece of a project, how it all fits together and helps you track changes. Asana has a mobile app and has more than 100 integrations.
Asana doesn't have a free plan, but it offers free trials and a lite version.
"Asana isn't just a calendar … it's an enterprise resource planner that includes a shared calendar function, but it also provides other collaboration tools we require," said David Alexander, designer, developer and digital marketer at Mazepress. "The pro of this approach includes having task management, communication and reporting tools all within a single interface … put simply, it's one of the tools I couldn't live without."
Calendly is automated scheduling software that works with your calendar to automatically check your availability. It helps schedule meetings without a lot of back-and-forth emails. Other features include the ability to schedule buffer time between meetings, time zone detection, compatibility with apps like Salesforce, GoToMeeting and Zapier, and it grows with your team.
"I use Calendly. I like to set up my podcast interviews," said Michelle Ngome, host of the Networking With Michelle Show. "There is a free and a paid version. The free version allows you to use one category, while [with] the paid version, you can set up multiple categories. Plus, you can customize the URL."
Ngome said her favorite feature is that it syncs with Google Calendar, and she can schedule personal appointments in Google without updating her schedule on Calendly. The program integrates with Outlook, Office 365 and iCloud calendar.
3. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is an integrated online calendar designed for teams. This calendar integrates seamlessly with other G-Suite products, including Gmail, Drive, Contacts, Sites and Hangouts. This app can be accessed on laptops, tablets and phones.
"I use the Google Calendar app to book all my appointments with clients," said Ana Santos, UX Consultant. "It's also handy for video meetings because it syncs with Google hangouts if we assign a video conferencing option to the event."
Santos' favorite feature is Google Calendar's ability to sync your calendar across all devices and browsers if you're logged in with your Google account.
Outlook is a common calendar app, which makes it easy to use for business because it's familiar. If you have an Exchange, Office 365 or Outlook account, you can share your calendar with others. You can also create additional calendars for specific projects and share it with co-workers.
Teamup offers shared calendars for groups to simplify organizing, scheduling and communication. Businesses can choose from free and paid plans. Further, Teamup offers a live demo of its software, as well as a three-day trial, so you can see for yourself if this app is a good fit for your team.
This program was built specifically for groups, and its calendars are easy to use. Calendars are organized by color, and they can easily and securely be shared with other team members through a secure URL.
"I spent ages looking for a good shared calendar to manage events and holidays for a spread-out team of people," said Ben Taylor, founder of homeworkingclub.com. "I eventually opted for … Teamup. It gave me the ability to set up lots of different even categories, [it] allowed staff to pull their choice of calendars into their own software using ICS feeds, and [it] even comes with an app for iOS and Android."
Credit: Teamup Solutions AG
With a lengthy list of features such as team timelines, zoom levels, project roadmaps and a sharing timeline, Teamweek makes it easy to collaborate with your team. Its free plan works for a team with up to five people, and its mobile app lets you collaborate on the go. Paid plans start at $39 per month for up to 10 people, and include projects roadmaps, annual view and custom colors.
"This is a visual resource for planning, managing and scheduling our team's projects," said Alexis Davis, founder and CEO of H.K. Productions. "It serves as an open calendar, so everyone knows who's working on what, when and how far we are from reaching our intended goals. I think intention, communication, transparency, and everyone's awareness of their roles and responsibilities is essential when choosing the right technology for your team's productivity."
iCloud isn't just for storage, it also features a simple-to-use calendar that integrates fully with any Apple device. The iCloud calendar app allows your team to schedule meetings, share information and communicate with ease. You can also toggle your calendar view to "Today" to view your daily tasks and projects at a glance. Its functionality is straightforward and very similar to Google's calendar, making it a popular choice.
The one downside of this app: Like most Apple products, it loses a lot of functionality for non-Apple computers as well as Android devices. Overall, this calendar app is best if your entire team uses Apple products.
8. Thunderbird Lightning Calendar
Thunderbird Lightning Calendar is regarded as one of the most powerful calendar apps for Linux users, though it also features Windows and Mac capabilities. Thunderbird's display includes tabs for your email, calendar and tasks, and users can easily navigate between these tabs to stay organized and in communication throughout the day.
The calendar offers several different views, including a summary of everything on your schedule for a single day, as well as a search function with time filters and preset event categories. Lightning Calendar integrates seamlessly with both Thunderbird and SeaMonkey email services. While it's not the fanciest shared calendar app on the list, Thunderbird Lightning Calendar is a useful all-in-one tool to keep you and your team on track.
Saige Driver contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.