Why Microsoft Outlook's Scheduling Assistant Is A Great Work Productivity Tool

Microsoft Office is a powerful grouping of productivity tools that help businesses function effectively. Microsoft's email platform in particular offers a wide variety of essential functions and plugins, and can even be used in offline mode. Microsoft has continued to be a powerhouse in both personal computing and the business world. Financial Post reports that over 1 billion people globally rely on Microsoft Office products in their daily tasks – be it the role of a student, a journalist, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Microsoft Outlook is one of the tools embedded within this suite of digital products, and it makes a massive splash in the corporate world. One great feature included in the email platform is the use of scheduling assistance. Scheduling with Outlook is intuitive and simple, and it can be used to accomplish a variety of requirements. For one, scheduling emails and setting away messages helps increase productivity and inner transparency of information across your team and chain of command. But the most exciting feature of the bunch has to be the use of the scheduling assistant tool to automatically find meeting places and times that fit within a group's busy schedule. This reduces the need to communicate back and forth about times that don't work for certain members, increasing internal frustration in the process.

The scheduling assistant is a foundational tool in the arsenal of any Microsoft Outlook user.

The meeting scheduling features are the real star of the show

Perhaps the most important productivity feature offered by the Microsoft Outlook suite is the meeting scheduling function. This gives you the ability to automatically find a room and times that suit all of the team members that you need to include in the discussion. Microsoft notes that the room finder works by adding all the required attendees to an Outlook meeting page, then selecting the tool to list out room locations in your building (or virtually) and times that work for everyone in the group's schedule.

Of course, in order to use this feature you'll need an organizational adoption of the Outlook platform as a meeting scheduling tool and calendar organizer for each member of the company. However, using digital, organization-wide calendars among staff members is a crucial feature of a business, according to Entrepreneur.

Scheduling a meeting can be a challenge during the busiest hours of the day or the most hectic times of the year. Some companies find themselves in a flurry of activity around the holidays or toward the end of each quarter. Using the meeting scheduling features embedded in Outlook can help melt away the trouble of long-winded discussions to set a meeting time that works for large (or even small) groups of employees.

Scheduling emails is a simple but powerful means of boosting efficiency

Scheduling emails offers a variety of great benefits, and it's a key feature in the scheduling assistant feature of Microsoft Outlook. Zapier notes that scheduling emails gives you the ability to manage your inbox and particularly important correspondence at odd times of the day or week. In a hybrid working role, it's not uncommon for an employee to be at their desk in a home office late into the night. Still, not everyone will be working at this time, so scheduling an email with the latest sales figures or new targets for the upcoming quarter can and should be scheduled to be sent the following morning. This gets the writing and reporting job finished for one employee (without having to get up the following day and remember to send it themselves), and schedules the message to be sent at a time conducive to the recipient.

As well, sending an email at a strange time can allow for the information to get lost. If some or all of your team members use personal email addresses for their communications, other emails that may come in overnight can bury the important message, potentially forcing it down low enough in the inbox that it gets overlooked.

Auto reply adds a layer of clarity to the workplace

The ability to set an out-of-office message or any other type of automated response to emails coming into your inbox helps streamline productivity and increase workplace transparency among staff members. Setting an out-of-office message isn't a new concept. Businesses have been deploying this measure for years, and virtually every consumer on the planet has received one while trying to get in touch with someone in the business world.

The ubiquity of the out-of-office auto-reply reveals its utility. While it might be a small annoyance as a customer or client to receive this response immediately after asking an important question or sending follow-up details for an order, complaint, or otherwise, the value is really found internally. When teammates go on vacation, workplace responsibilities can fall through the cracks with ease. One employee who takes care of a certain client's needs or a subset of the team's customer requirements can leave an automatic reply that tells clients and other team members how long they will be out and who to contact in the meantime for assistance (via Linkedin).

This feature allows others to understand a treasure trove of information about how to get their issue or requirement resolved without having to wait for the specific person to return. This is also particularly valuable for managing important client accounts. Without an auto-reply, you might inadvertently keep someone waiting for information, leading them to search elsewhere for the service.