Will Holmes is a senior program manager on the Exchange engineering team.
We all have lots of meetings, which means our schedules are busy and it’s often hard to find a good time when everyone can meet. Now, with the Propose New Time feature in Outlook Web App in Office 365, resolving scheduling conflicts is easier than ever. When you receive a meeting invitation, Outlook Web App (OWA) empowers you to suggest better times with just a few clicks, so there’s no need to simply decline or engage in time-consuming back-and-forth with meeting organizers to find better times. As a meeting organizer, you’ll love this feature too. You can easily review the proposals for alternate times that you receive from attendees, confident that you can find a new meeting time that will work the best time for your attendees.
For most Office 365 users, Propose New Time in Outlook Web App is available today in Outlook Web App. All Office 365 users will have it by the end of September. We’ve even included it in our mobile apps, including OWA for iPad, OWA for iPhone, and OWA for Android.
If you’ve used recent desktop versions of Microsoft Outlook, you might already be familiar with this feature. Propose New Time lets attendees see when everyone, including themselves, is free. That makes it easy to propose a new time for the meeting organizer to consider. The organizer can then accept the best new time proposal to quickly reschedule the meeting.
Propose a new time as an attendee
Let’s take a look at how Propose New Time works when you’re invited to attend a meeting. A meeting organizer sends a request to you and other meeting attendees. When you receive the meeting request, you see that in addition to the usual Accept, Tentative, and Decline buttons, there is now a Propose New Time button on your meeting invitation.
If you use Outlook Web App, you’re already familiar with the notices that provide relevant schedule information in meeting invitations. The screenshot below shows a notice that there are scheduling conflicts. If applicable, when you receive a meeting request, the invitation also provides information about events on your calendar directly before and after the originally proposed meeting time, making it easy for you to suggest a better time for you.
If there is a conflict, or if the originally proposed time is unsatisfactory for any reason, you can simply click the Propose New Time button on either the invitation or on the calendar event itself. When you click Propose New Time, you’re presented with three choices: accept and propose new time, tentative and propose new time, and decline and propose new time. Accept and propose new time, an option unique to Outlook Web App, signals to the organizer that while the original time works, another time is better for you.
Once you’ve clicked one of the three Propose New Time options, a streamlined view of the scheduling assistant opens. For Outlook Web App users who share free/busy information, this provides an easy way to see everyone’s free/busy information, so you can identify the best time not just for yourself, but for everyone to meet.
After you select a new time (like the proposal to meet at 12:00 P.M. in the example above), you click OK on the scheduling assistant. This opens a new email message, automatically addressed to the organizer, with the new time proposal (see below). You have the option to add recipients to the To:, Cc:, or Bcc: fields.
That’s it. Now when you receive a meeting request and you have a scheduling conflict, you can save time and frustration by quickly finding an alternative meeting time with Propose New Time.
Manage new time proposals as a meeting organizer
Let’s switch roles and take a look at how this new feature works when you’re a meeting organizer. When a meeting organizer receives an email from an attendee who is proposing a new time, a notification appears in the invitation indicating that a new time has been proposed for their earlier meeting invitation.
When you click Edit event in the new time proposal notification (as shown above), a form appears where you can edit the event. This form also links to the scheduling assistant (as shown below), so you, as the meeting organizer, can easily access the attendee’s free/busy information.
The scheduling assistant even lets you view the current meeting time alongside all new time proposals you receive from your attendees, so you can compare options and select the one that works the best for everyone.
Once you select a new time to meet, you can easily edit the time and send an updated invitation to all attendees. That means less time spent on organizing a time to meet and more time for organizing the substance and goals of meetings.
The next time you receive a meeting invitation in Outlook Web App, try the Propose New Time feature. We’re sure that it will help make coordinating meeting times easier than ever, for attendees and for organizers.