There are numerous ways to announce your absence in a team using Outlook and Exchange, and they have all their weak and strong points.
One nifty solution though, is to create a room resource in Exchange / Office 365 and use its calendar as team vacations overview. Some of the advantages that this solution offers – it is flexible and it gets along with stubborn resistance. The idea behind is that everyone still enters his vacation in his own calendar and can still send invitations to whoever he finds appropriate. Additionally he sends it to the room resource that accepts is unconditionally. From the supervisor’s side you have also the same flexibility: some don’t want to know, so leave them alone, the information freaks can simply add this resource shared calendar to Outlook.
In this lightweight solution there are some deployment caveats though:
We firstly want to make the resource accept conflicting bookings; obviously there could be many team members away at the same time.
Secondly make the resource accept reoccurring events and also allow a larger time horizon: at least in Germany many people are booking their Christmas residences in January.
And thirdly give everyone (or a specified group) view permissions to the calendar, so that this can be opened in Outlook.
Unfortunately not everything can be configured from the web UI, hence the PowerShell script provided here. It is only three lines long and you can adjust it fast enough.
New-Mailbox -Name “Vacation Calendar” -DisplayName “Vacation Calendar” -PrimarySmtpAddress “firstname.lastname@example.org” -Room
Set-CalendarProcessing -Identity email@example.com -AutomateProcessing AutoAccept -AllowRecurringMeetings $true -AllowConflicts $true `
-ConflictPercentageAllowed 100 -MaximumConflictInstances 10 -BookingWindowInDays 365 -EnforceSchedulingHorizon $False `
-AddOrganizerToSubject $True -DeleteComments $False -DeleteSubject $False
Set-MailboxFolderPermission -Identity firstname.lastname@example.org:\calendar -User default -AccessRights reviewer
So that’s it.