Reference (currently unsolved):
rename the folder ~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.outlook
I decided to try contribute a solution that I could not find anywhere else.
This issue had occurred before on the user's Mac, where previously I had restored his view to defaults which did resolve the issue the first time, unfortunately the second time I was not so lucky.
Outlook 2016 for Mac - when reading pane is set to right, the column to the left that contains a list of messages will appear blank, that is, the headings for groups will be present and the list items are blank that would normally give you the message's subject, sender and message preview.
The problem was not evident in a second account that existed prior to troubleshooting (same Outlook profile).
Only the message list column is blank, the content of the messages is still visible in the reading pane.
There is most likely a more efficient method, e.g. just renaming a specific .plist file within this folder. However, Outlook promptly recreates this folder after launching.
I was presented with the colorful / classic choice when opening Outlook and the profile and data were still intact after completing this selection. The added bonus is that items in the list were no longer blanked out.
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This should do the trick, you do not have to rename the entire folder.
Outlook will create a new file on first boot and the issue will be resolved.
I believe this issue is because of the corrupted Container.plist file; probably, this got corrupted during one of the updates.