I-Calendars – Hi tech solution or a cloudy issue?

A popular Christmas gift, calendars and wall planners have long been the stalwarts of the office. Indeed, calendars carved onto bone are some of the earliest human relics.

Every winter sees a whole new series available for the coming year, featuring every conceivable image, brand, band or lifestyle, free ones, paid ones, designer ones, cutesy ones – and boring ones!

Wales has its own flavour of calendars, with two making the headlines for all the wrong reasons – one publisher famously didn’t sell a single one of his ‘Disappearing red telephone boxes of Wales 2014’, only to follow up this year with ‘Welsh Post Boxes of 2016’!

Calendars are so popular that they even have their own ‘league’ published by licensed calendar firm Danilo. Last year’s number one was Disney’s ‘Frozen’, followed closely by boyband One Direction’s calendar and a surprising third was a calendar from the massive Minecraft game (Cliff Richard nearly always features in the Top 10!).

Calendars are still big business, so are we really ready to sacrifice our pretty pictures in favour of electronic calendars? You have Outlook, Google Calendars, Apple’s I-Cal, Android Calendars, and a whole host of others on smartphones and PCs – does it all get a bit confusing?

As the commercial director of a company specialising in absence management, I don’t think it does. Most electronic calendar systems all talk to each other, easily and relatively painlessly, so the information only needs to be entered once, and while everyone has their personal favourite, you could in theory use all of them with few issues.

When it comes to staff holiday planning, the new tools come into their own. With an online staff holiday planner, every single person has access to the calendar for their team – no matter where they are.

The technology is revolutionising planning – if staff are in the travel agents, they can see immediately which of their colleagues are off that week and whether their leave requests are likely to be approved. Managers don’t need to manually update their diaries to sync with the office diary to book a meeting. Leave clashes, logistical nightmares and key dates being missed are painlessly eliminated. It’s a big leap forward.

Spreadsheets, paper diaries and wall planners are definitely ‘last season’s news’. Most of the people who still use them are in the market for a replacement.

Now we are all used to getting email, Facebook and a myriad of social media messages on our mobiles. I think it’s only a matter of time before cloud-based calendar syncing and diary features are used by all of us rather than the tech savvy few.

However, firms like Danilo have nothing to fear – even in my high tech office, I have a calendar on the wall for quick reference and my team use a wall planner as a ‘mood board’ for marketing and creative inspiration.

I’m looking now at what my marketing team have written for December, seeing the very obvious Christmas, Black Friday, School Plays and New Year (hmm, exactly how creative are my marketing team!).

Thankfully, I also see International Day of People with Disability, World Aids Day, Nobel Prize Day, Pearl Harbour Day, Human Rights Day and – my personal favourite – December 18th, New Star Wars film!

In our office, the wall planner is far from dead. For motivation and a little bit of fun, it’s ideal – but any serious planning uses online calendars. Those pretty novelty calendars you buy every Christmas get hung on the wall and you enjoy the pictures, but few people use them for serious planning past the end of January.

I do wonder what we will be using 10 years from now to plan our lives – someone, I’m sure, will be writing a similar piece to this saying how out of date ‘old online calendars’ are!

However, I’m still hoping that someone sends me a tasteful calendar for my wall this Christmas – to replace my 2015 Golf Monthly!

Adrian Lewis is the commercial director for welsh software developers Codel Software and has been advising businesses on how software can best manage HR challenges for more than 10 years. 

Image credit: Dafne Cholet