Coordinating work schedules around employee vacations and days off was never a problem for Halsey Platt -- when his company was small. But today, Walter H.B. Platt Builders and Cabinetmakers, Groton, Mass., has 29 employees. Because employees average two weeks of vacation per year, that means "someone is out every single week here," Platt says.

At the end of last year, Patty Naughton, Platt's office manager, asked company employees to list the weeks and days they planned to take off in 2003. Naughton used that to help her put together an internal calendar. The calendar, created in Excel, is printed and updated on a monthly basis. It lists company holidays, dates and times of company meetings, employee anniversaries, paydays, and individual employee vacations, as well as any other times employees may be off the job, such as for medical appointments.

Platt says frustration prompted the idea. The calendar was designed to coordinate vacation and holiday time and get employees thinking more about the long-term schedule.

It also got the company's work force more connected. "We typically run four to six projects at a time, and there are times when we'd have two carpenters who wouldn't see each other for three or four weeks," Platt says.

Employees view the calendar as another system for organizing the company. Now, there are no more calls to the office about when payday is, and no more excuses for missing company meetings.

Platt suggests that companies with five or fewer employees would probably have no need for an internal calendar, but he thinks those with 10 or more could definitely benefit.