Office 365 (Outlook 2013) - Check Availability using Outlook's Scheduling Assistant feature
Microsoft Outlook's Scheduling Assistant is a tool which allows you to invite groups of people to meetings or events without having to email them individually. You may complete a new meeting request which Outlook emails to the desired recipients in the form of an invitation. When the invitation is sent, a tentative appointment will appear on the invitees' calendars. Potential attendees can then accept or reject the invitation. If an individual accepts, Outlook will automatically mark the time as busy on his or her Calendar. This document covers the process involved in using Outlook's Scheduling Assistant.
Outlook 2013's Scheduling Assistant is capable of taking a great number of variables into account when helping you to schedule a meeting. This section will explain how to create a new Meeting Request and schedule that request using the Scheduling Assistant.
Creating a New Meeting Request
In Outlook, at the bottom left of the screen, click Calendar.
From the Home tab, at the top left of the screen, click New Meeting and select New Meeting from the dropdown menu.
A new window appears. From the Meeting tab, select Scheduling Assistant.
The Scheduling Assistant view appears, which looks something like a spreadsheet. You will see your name and schedule in the top row.
Note: On the right-hand side, you will see the Suggested Times list. As you had attendees to your meeting, this list will adjust to provide possible meeting times when all required attendees and/or locations are available. The times correspond to the date and meeting duration you have currently selected (more information on this can be found below).
There are multiple ways to add attendees to your meeting requests:
If you know the name of the person (or people) you wish to add, click in the space under your name that says Click here to add a name, and type in the person's name or username.
Example: Smith, John
If you wish to look up a person's name instead, click Address Book in the Meeting tab at the top of the screen and use the search box. Click OK to add the person to the scheduling view.
Click Add Attendees near the bottom left of the screen and use the search box to find names. Click OK to add the person to the scheduling view.
Note: By, default, the Name only option is selected. When in this view, it is easiest to search by a person's last name. If you wish to search by username, select More columns.
- You may add as many peoples' names as you wish. Note that every time you add a person's name, you will be able to see when they are free and when they are busy. You may see the following color indicators:
Blue: The time is marked as busy.
Blue and White Striped: This time is scheduled with tentative appointments.
Purple: This time is marked as out of office.
Black and White Striped: Outlook has no information for this time (the user may not be an Outlook/Exchange user, a UW-Madison user, or does not have an Outlook Calendar set up).
- Optional: To classify attendees, click the arrow to the right of the icon next to the attendee's name, and select the desired classification. Attendee classifications are taken into account by the Suggested Times.
Organizer: This is the creator of the meeting; it will by default appear to the left of your name (and will not be an option for other attendees). This position is regarded as necessary by the Suggested Times list.
Required Attendee: Invitees to be regarded as necessary by the Suggested Times list. Invitees are by default listed as required.
Optional Attendee: Invitees for whom attendance is optional; separated from Required Attendees in the Suggested Times list.
Resource: This label marks rooms or equipment added to the meeting, and is regarded as necessary by the Suggested Times list
Optional: Some rooms on campus are available for reservation, and therefore have their own calendars. To reserve one of these rooms, click Add Rooms near the bottom left of the screen and choose the desired room. A meeting request will be sent to the calendar of this room.
At the bottom of the screen, you can set the start and end dates and times. To change the date you are viewing on the screen (and the date for which times will be suggested in the Suggested Times list), click the calendar icon and select the appropriate date. To change the time, use the dropdown menus.
Note: When you change the time, you are changing the duration of the meeting in the Suggested Times list: it will only suggest openings that fit that duration.
From the Suggested Times list, choose the desired time. Conflict-free times appear at the top of the list.
If you are having a difficult time finding an available time for all required attendees, click Options | AutoPick, then click Required People. The meeting date/time will automatically be adjusted to the next available slot.
Click Appointment in the Meeting tab at the top of the screen. This will return you to the Appointment screen. You will see the details for the date and time you selected. Add a subject and location in the appropriate text boxes. If desired, enter text to appear in the body of the message.