Making Calendars Collaborative

In the workplace, calendars are an important tool for coordinating activity. Desktop calendars that are part of a messaging client, like Outlook or Lotus Notes, can help people to manage their own time; but if you want to coordinate or schedule activities with other people, then that information needs to be freed from individual inboxes. And of course sometimes these activities or events relate to things, like projects, that aren’t tied to a particular person.

By doing this we make the activity around calendars and scheduling observable work. This makes it a social business activity and many of the enterprise social business software products provide support for it.

For example, ThoughtFarmer has recently upgraded its calendar. Meanwhile, Atlassian has just introduced a new Team Calendar plugin (going beyond the original calendar plugin already available in Confluence). Calendars are front and centre in Open Atrium too.

Those are just a couple of examples. If you thought that ‘social software’ was all about conversation, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the social suites we work with all support calendaring in some form, either through native calendaring applications, project tools or plugins – for example, Jive SBS offers lightweight task management.

On the other hand, the great benefit of using a wiki-based social suite is that if a rigid calendar doesn’t suit your needs, then you have the flexibility and tools on hand to simply create a page of dates or list of tasks. Socialtext also offers Socialcalc (a wiki-spreadsheet), which could for example be used for mapping out dates and resources.

And what if you already have a calendaring solution or maybe you want to integrate event information from another system into your social collaboration tool? Many of the leading workforce collaboration tools also support the OpenSocial standard, which makes it easy to integrate the two.

Enterprise social computing tools are designed to help get work done, not just foster watercooler chat (although, don’t forget that’s helpful too, but for a whole range of other reasons).