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Internal Communications Resources: Calendaring Norms and Guidelines


Microsoft Outlook is the official email and calendaring tool of the MIT Libraries staff. Below are best practices to enable Libraries staff to have a positive and productive experience with the calendaring tool, while helping their colleagues do the same. 

The Internal Communication Working Group reviewed and updated these guidelines in April 2023. They will continue to update these guidelines in the future as needed. The ICWG encourages teams to review and discuss these norms together.

Setting work hours & sharing your calendar

  • Make your calendar visible to all-lib
    • If you have concerns about calendar visibility, you should discuss it with your manager.
  • Give “reviewer” permissions so people can see availability and details. Set meetings as private when/if needed.
    • Background: On 11/28/17, a decision was made by the Associate Directors that the calendar default should be "open to all-lib". Please use JSM for help in applying the setting.
  • Show your regular work hours/schedule on your calendar. This can be challenging for staff that works varied schedules, so do what you can.
  • See Calendaring best practices for more detailed technical help.

Blocking time & ongoing maintenance

  • Keep your calendar current with information on vacations, remote work, etc. Staff with many meetings may benefit from updating 3-4 weeks ahead of time.
    • Remote schedules should be communicated with your manager and team
    • If you work with multiple shared team calendars, follow your team guidelines for communicating this information
  • Check your calendar often – at least daily – it can be easy to miss a last minute meeting addition or change.
  • Add vacations/outages to resources calendars (e.g., Hayden Service Desk Calendar,) as defined by calendar owner/groups expectations/norms
  • Mark a meeting/appointment “private” whenever necessary.
  • If staff are unavailable (for any reason) during their regular work hours, this unavailability should be communicated on the calendar, either by a meeting event, a private event, blocked off time for quiet work, etc.
    • Meeting organizers - be respectful of people’s calendars and follow up with a conversation with attendee if needed


  • Mark off vacation time (using "out of office option) on your own calendars as soon as possible
  • Set an out-of-office notification for when you're unavailable and include when you will return
    • Include a back-up contact if necessary
  • Share the vacation time with your team and supervisor as needed
    • When adding vacations/outages to other calendars, use the "all day" event and mark as free
    • If your team utilizes a shared calendar, or libcal for appointments, make sure to include  your unavailability on those calendars as well

Remote and hybrid work

  • Communicate with your team the days that you work from home if you are a hybrid employee

Scheduling meetings

  • If you are the scheduler of a meeting - make clear to invitees:
    • What is the purpose of the meeting
    • Whether an invitee’s attendance is required or optional
    • See Meeting Norms and Guidelines for more info
  • Include a Zoom option for all meetings when possible
    • If a meeting needs to be in person, state that clearly on the invite
  • Consider and be mindful of travel time, lunchtime, back-to-back meetings, etc.
    • MIT Libraries subscribes to "MIT Time," which gives meeting attendees a five-minute grace period for joining a meeting
  • Try not to schedule meetings before 10 am, during lunch time (typically 12-1 PM), on Monday mornings, or on Friday afternoons
    • Discuss with your team if there are other non-meeting timeblocks

Accepting & declining meetings

  • Staff should take action on invitations as they come into their Inbox (Accept, Accept as tentative, or Decline)
  • Avoid accepting as Tentative
    • Use the "Decline and propose new time" feature in Outlook if you are double-booked and reach out to the organizer if your presence is required
    • Use your best judgement and communicate with meeting organizer as needed, be mindful if food is being ordered.
  • For large meetings where an RSVP is required please respond by the organizer's deadline

Getting help