We help Microsoft-centric enterprises fully adopt the cloud & adapt to new ways of working.
\

CATEGORY

Meeting room booking

Are you preparing to support ‘hybrid meetings’?  Here’s what you need to know about booking hybrid meetings in Teams

A ‘perfect storm’ of COVID-19, environmental issues, flexible working trends, rising fuel costs and now transport strikes means the concept of having ‘hybrid meetings’, where some colleagues attend in person, and others ‘dial in’ on a video call, will become the norm.

As well as providing the relevant conferencing equipment (be it a certified Microsoft Teams Room device or your conferencing equipment of choice), it’s handy if you can book the hybrid meeting space at the same time as scheduling your Teams meeting.

In this article we will look at what Microsoft Teams offers natively to help streamline the booking of hybrid meetings.  We’ll also uncover some things to be aware of.

Booking a meeting room or teams room from the Teams Calendar App

To allow users to book meeting rooms at the same time as scheduling a meeting, Microsoft uses the concept of resource mailboxes in Microsoft 365.

Simply put, a resource mailbox is a proxy that represents a room (or other limited resource) and can be invited along with the other attendees in order to reserve it.

More recently Microsoft has introduced a Workspace resource mailbox.  This is aimed at helping book collaboration workspaces that have a capacity limit associated with them (this being the subject of our latest eBook).

Configured correctly, resource mailboxes enable your workforce to select from a list of rooms or workspaces using the Add Location field in the Teams calendar App.

And yes, you will have no doubt be familiar with the Add a Location option in Outlook calendar or have used the handy Room Finder option (only currently available in Outlook), which lets you filter this list according to location, facilities and capacity.  More on this later.

This is how you book a meeting room or workspace in Teams

Click on Calendar App in the left of your Teams view,

 

followed by the New meeting button on the top right.

OR

From within a Teams channel, select the ‘Schedule a meeting’ option next to the ‘Meet’ button, and you’ll get to the same screen.

Enter the title and the date and time of your meeting along with the attendees you’d like to invite.

It’s also possible to send your invitation to the members of a channel, but this is perhaps best avoided (you can read why below).

The Add location field lets you select a meeting room that’s free for your planned timeframe.

If you’re not seeing any rooms or locations listed here, they may need setting up in Exchange Online.  Again, see our eBook on how to do this using room lists.

Once you’ve added your meeting details you can Send your invitation.  Your meeting is made in much the same way as creating a meeting and room booking in Outlook.

There is also bi-directional synchronisation with the user’s Outlook calendar.  For instance, you can edit items scheduled in the Outlook calendar and those changes will appear in the Teams calendar.

There are, however, some key differences between booking a meeting in Outlook calendar versus booking a meeting (and a meeting room) in Teams.  This includes behaviours that might surprise you surrounding the invitation process.

Beware Teams Meeting Booking Limitations

There are still some ‘gotchas’ when booking meetings and meeting rooms using Teams, so in this article we have provided some tips and best practices to help navigate them.

For example:

  • There are no filters available on the ‘Location’ list to help you select the right Teams Room (i.e., a room with video conferencing capabilities).  It’s just a ‘flat list’ navigable by location.  For this reason, you may wish to be more descriptive in your actual room names.
  • The Teams calendar only syncs with the user’s main (primary) Outlook calendar & not additional calendars, so it might not pick up on conflicting appointments.
  • You can’t mark events as private.
  • You can’t drag and drop meetings between time slots.
  • If you book a workspace resource, the feature that automatically ‘counts down’ from the occupancy total might not work.
  • The meeting invitation process can be a bit ‘hit and miss’, (see below)

Here’s what you need to know about the invitation process:

You can invite specific individuals to a meeting organised via Teams by listing them in the ‘Add required attendees’ field.

You can also send your invitation to a Microsoft 365 Group or an email distribution list (DL)

Teams Calendar uses the ‘attendee picker’ as per Outlook calendar and can include both Groups and Distribution Lists, but there are some very important differences when inviting people in Teams calendar versus Outlook calendar.

First off, unlike the Outlook attendee picker, you need to know at least the first few characters of the name of the individual, Group or DL.

As you start typing, Teams Calendar will make suggestions that match, however:

  • It’s not clear whether what is being listed is a DL or a Group (whereas it’s more obvious in Outlook calendar).
  • You can’t expand the membership of a DL or Group to ‘hand pick’ the individual members you want join the meeting. In Outlook calendar, you can.
  • You can’t see the availability of individual members in a Group or DL in the Teams Meeting App Scheduling Assistant. In Outlook calendar you can expand a list to see individual availability.
  • Some or all Groups might be missing from the list.

The last point is owing to a change Microsoft made in 2018 to hide Teams Groups from Exchange address lists.  Why would you want to email a Group when you should be chatting with them in Teams, right?  

The default settings on any Teams created after 2018 was to set the ‘HiddenFromExchangeClients’ property to $True.

This means any Teams you created before this date may show up in the attendee picker, and anything after 2018 won’t.  To get your Groups to show up consistently in the attendee picker it’s worth setting this property to $False for each Team.

Although DLs may be more familiar to your user base, they too can create issues.  For example, a distribution list can include other distribution lists.  Also, DLs can be poorly maintained.  This might mean you end up sending an invitation to a whole bunch of people you don’t expect!

Another thing to note about DLs is that between the time you send the invitation, and the meeting taking place, someone in the list may have been removed, but the removal of that individual will not result in the meeting invitation being removed from that individual’s calendar.

Either of these scenarios can lead to embarrassing situations – especially if your meeting invitation makes it clear that your meeting is a hybrid one (in which case they may turn up in person!).

Watch out for Booking Meetings in Channels

A concept that is unique to booking meetings in Teams is the ability to Add a channel in which to meet (or book your meeting from within a Channel, in which case this field is automatically populated with the channel name).

Channels are sub-sections of teams, a bit like a topic within a team.

It is important to note that when a channel is selected, the meeting booking is made by the group email address of the channel, rather than the logged-on user.

Whilst the organiser in the Teams calendar app is displayed as the user who made the booking, the corresponding booking in the Outlook calendar shows the organiser as the channel, which may be a source of confusion.

Also, a Teams channel invitation does not automatically send invitations to everyone in the channel.

If you want Team members to receive a meeting invitation you should either:

  • Get Team members to subscribe to the corresponding Microsoft 365 group, in which case they will receive all meeting notifications. Bear in mind, however, that not everyone will want to receive invitations and it might not be appropriate for all on the channel to attend.

OR

  • Get organisers to specifically invite the people they want to attend (as described above) and not rely on the channel invitation process.

Conclusion

As you will see, there’s still some way to go for the Teams meeting invitation capability to ‘catch up’ with what’s available in Outlook calendar.

For these reasons, you may want to ask users to always organise their hybrid Teams meetings from Outlook, and simply select the meeting to be a Teams meeting.

That way you’ll get access to any available meeting room filters, such as the ability to specifically select meeting spaces that have video conferencing facilities, as well as the capacity of your selected meeting room.

This latter point brings us onto a whole new subject area when it comes to organising and facilitating hybrid meetings…watch this space.

When not having a dedicated desk becomes an attractive proposition

We started promoting the benefits of what was then termed ‘hot desking’ almost 15 years ago, at which time the prospect of not having one’s own dedicated desk, complete with family photos and pot plant, was anathema to most people.

Fast forward over a decade that’s included improvements to remote working technology, increased travel costs and latterly, a pandemic, it seems like many of us have become familiar with the trade-off: flexible working = flexible workspace.

Having experienced the many benefits of hybrid working (as it is now called), and, most likely having already lost their desk as part of social distancing measures, office workers are now more receptive to that fact that having an ‘exclusive relationship’ with a particular desk is a thing of the past.

Going into the office nowadays is less about sitting alone in silos (you can do that at home) and more about meeting up with team members.

For many organisations this has meant providing more funky new team spaces, video conferencing pods and exciting collaboration zones at the expense of banks of dedicated desks.

Even if you are visiting the office to work alone, the prospect of not having access to your usual old desk may be more than compensated with the appeal of test-driving a fancy riser desk or bagging that desk overlooking the best view.

It’s a fact: Adopting a hybrid working policy and provisioning hybrid workspaces is enabling enterprises to attract new employees.

In a recent conversation with my brother-in-law who heads up HR for a multi-national construction firm, he revealed their overseas head office was ‘dead set’ against allowing its staff to work from home.

“Although we are hybrid working in practice, we simply can’t put anything in our employment terms about guaranteed hybrid working and this is hampering our abilities to attract the best talent in the UK.”

According to Tilly McHugh, Operations Manager at Haysmacintyre LLP,

“Having proved we were able to work very effectively remotely during the pandemic, we took the opportunity to re-think the way we work and have adopted a hybrid working strategy. We feel that the flexibility to work from home and visit the office as needed is what the modern workforce now expects as part of their employment terms. This strategy, together with our newly re-worked office facilities and workspace booking system, puts us in good stead to offer a very attractive hybrid working environment to both existing and prospective employees.”

Easy yet equitable access is essential

The ability to throttle how many people can come in at once, make it easy for individuals and teams to access the workspaces and facilities they need, and making it easy to book a seat next to their co-workers, have become critical components of any workspace booking system.

According to Jim Fussell, head of workspace management at Essential,

“The companies we work with are also keen to bake in policies that give everyone a fair share of the available facilities.”

Where organisations are stipulating that employees must come in for part of the week, a clear trend has been the desire to avoid Mondays and Fridays like the plague (bad analogy?), with most people visiting the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  Continued Fussell,

“Whilst it would be true to say that many offices have enough capacity to accommodate this reality for now, it’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse of occupancy trends and be in a position to adapt.  Having tumbleweed blow around a virtually empty office at either end of the week is simply not sustainable in this day and age.”

Essential is helping facilities and HR managers implement policies that throttle the number of people that can come in on any given day, or that encourage large team meetings to take place on a Monday or Friday.  It’s also possible to stipulate anchor desks for those people that need to be in a specific area or be sited next to specific resources.”

In short, the ability to compete in the new hybrid working age, coupled with the cost savings and efficiencies enterprises can make by (just) provisioning the right kinds of workspaces is a good place to be in.

Hybrid workspace management

Read more about services to help your enterprise book, provision & manage your workplace for new ways of working.

Does the workspace booking system you’re planning involve selecting an available desk from a list or an interactive floor plan?  If so, physically applying the corresponding numbers to your desks in the office is a vital part of the jigsaw.

You’d be surprised to know the number of projects we’ve encountered where this step was not ‘in the plan’.

“We only have a 30 hot desks and staff already know where they are”

“We’ll put a big print out of all the desks on the wall in reception”

“It will make our desks look untidy”

These are just some of the comments that we hear regularly.  But (sorry) they’re not valid excuses for failing to clearly and individually desks in a way that matches in with your desk booking system.

You only have to think about what happens when someone parks in ‘bay 9’ instead of ‘bay 6’ to understand what confusion and ‘world of pain’ can ensue as everyone has to work around the mistake of occupying the wrong space.

Returning to a ‘hybrid office’ space, with different desk layouts and new collaboration spaces can be daunting enough – even more so if you’re a ‘new start’.  The last thing you’ll want is an argument over whether you’re sitting at the right desk or not.

What’s the best way to physically number desks?

By all means, you can use individual desk devices that incorporate contactless booking and check-in functionality, a status indicator and the desk number in one neat package, but you don’t have to go to this expense.

Our low cost favourites include:

Engraved steel disks that can incorporate QR Codes for booking and check-in using a mobile phone.

Neat desk booking sign example incorporating QR code

Not only are they nice and neat, they don’t cost a lot at all and come with different fixings.  Our team can also help you generate a file of QR codes you can send to the nice folk that make them!

A card holder clip that sits nicely on top of workstations:

Low cost desk booking signage

These cost 5 pence each and all you need is some coloured cards and a printer!  What could be simpler?  You could also incorporate a QR code into the sign.

For more tips on how to go about numbering your hybrid workspaces in a way that’s both fool- and COVID-19-proof, check out our earlier blog.

Future Proof Your Return to Work Desk Numbering Scheme

Covid-secure workspace management

Read more about services to help your enterprise book, provision & manage your workplace for social distancing & beyond.

Are you planning a hybrid workspace booking system that’s also COVID-19 proof? As we face an uncertain future for our office space, here’s 5 top tips when it comes to how you go about identifying your desks and workspaces.

1. Walk the floor

It’s tempting to use CAD diagrams as a reference when numbering workspaces, however in our experience these can quickly become out-of-date.  Desks can get informally ‘nudged’ around and added or removed over the years.

You may also find there’s glass partitions or dividers that give extra protection that are not obvious in a CAD diagram.

There could also be some ‘desire paths’ (as opposed to the originally intended walkways around the office).  These will need to be taken into consideration (or blocked off) to avoid traffic passing too close to desk occupants.

If possible, the best starting point is to physically walk the floor and number each desk as you encounter them.

We recommend that you make ‘desk number 1‘ (or the lowest number on that floor) the first desk you would physically encounter if you walked clockwise through the office space from the main entrance.  Numbering should be applied logically from that point on.

This is the best way to ensure your staff can easily find the particular desk they’ve booked with minimal hunting around (see our next point).

2. Treat your workspaces like hotel rooms.

Emulating the convention that’s used to signpost hotel rooms will help your staff rapidly locate their workspace with the minimum of effort (and minimal criss-crossing the floor).

So:

  • Consider numbering your desks in a clockwise direction as you walk around the office floor, starting from the main entrance (e.g., the main lifts).  This means you can say: “Desks 1-50 are on the left, and 51-100 on the right-hand side of the floor” which will help maintain social distancing as your workforce tracks down their booked workspaces.
  • Numbers should be allocated logically and consistently within a ‘desk block’, to minimise the amount of walking around to find a desk.
  • If you have multiple floors, as with hotel rooms, use the first number to indicate the floor, and the next digits to signify the workspace number.  This will help you avoid mix-ups where there are multiple desks numbered ’15’ on each of several floors.  3 digits will give you up to 99 numbers to ‘play with’ per floor. If you have more than 99 desks on a floor, you will need to use 4 digits in total.
  • If you have a large office floor and have introduced the concept of zones or neighbourhoods to help staff members find where they need to be, make sure these conventions are physically signed across your workspace (and not just used on your workspace booking system).
Tips for numbering your desks for a Covid-secure booking system
Best way to number your hot desks

The above example shows the right way and the wrong way to number your desks.

Our tip is to imagine you are walking along the floor using the main thoroughfares and following a logical flow.   How would you feel if desk 19 was on the other side of the floor from desk 16?  Confused, we think.

Finally, even if you just have one floor of desks, it’s useful to include a ‘0’ on your desk numbering, so count 001-099, not 1, 2, 3 up to 99, as some desk booking systems sort alphanumerically.

3. Number all potential desks (not just the safely spaced ones)

We have seen (and thankfully, averted) more than one project where the intention was to only allocate a consecutive number just to the ‘safely distanced’ desks.

For example:

The key downside to this approach is that social distancing requirements may change.

Even after we are now out of this lockdown, Sir Patrick Vallance indicated that additional measures may need to be re-introduced when we move into next Winter.   This could mean the wearing of masks, but also the increasing of social distancing measures in the office.

Also, if you use a workspace booking system you will have to change up your desk numbering accordingly.

By allocating a consecutive number to each potentially available desk on the outset, you won’t need to make any physical changes to your desk numbers at a later date.

Instead, you’ll just have to amend what’s bookable in your workspace management system.

By numbering each desk, you can also take advantage of auto-zoning technology.  To see this in action, check out this video.

As you’ll see in the video, when a user selects their preferred desk, adjacent desks are automatically ‘blocked out’ according to specified rules that can be applied across the board and updated as needed.

4. Physically label your workspaces!

This is the final piece of the jigsaw and avoids much confusion.

You’d be surprised at the number of clients we encounter that allocate numbers to desks and workspaces on their floor plans and resource lists, but omit to physically label up the actual workspaces themselves.

Labelling can be as simple as printing a number on a sticker and fixing it to the desk or screen.

Also, if your workspace booking system uses a check-in option that involves scanning a QR code, you can combine the number and the code on the same label.

We’ve recently encountered this rather neat solution which uses engraved disks.  You can simply send across a spreadsheet of workspace IDs and QR codes and the engraving company will do the rest.

Other clients have used simple stick-on labels created by their local print suppliers.

Of course, you can always use more sophisticated options that include red/green status lights and RFID check in capability.

The key aim is to ensure your workforce know they have safely arrived at the correct workspace and that you as a company are able to register that fact and provide the necessary COVID-19 safety and capacity and workspace planning services ‘behind the scenes’.

5. Prepare for something different altogether

With the home working genie fully out of the bottle, our physical office spaces will probably never be the same again.

Research carried out by Cisco indicates that 77% of larger organisations will adopt a more flexible working policy post pandemic.   It’s not surprising, therefore, to learn that 53% of organisations predicted a reduction in their future office space footprint.

Whilst turning half of your office space into a fully stocked bar (like high-end tonic maker Fever Tree) might not be an option, shrinking or re-organising your office space to reflect your predicted future utilisation, should be on the agenda now.

If there’s any silver lining to this situation, it’s that pre-pandemic, introducing a desk sharing scheme (often referred to as hot desking) tended to be an emotionally charged affair.  In short, staff were happy to be able to work from home but were not at all happy about losing their desk.

The Coronavirus has forced the situation, with workforce safety trumping desk ownership politics.

Given that ‘return to work round two’ could be a while off yet, enterprises like Fever Tree are taking action and re-mapping their office now.

Whilst a bar might be a popular attraction for your workforce, rearranging your office space to accommodate your future needs might be more realistic.

Figuring out what workspaces will be required going forward may need some analysis:

  • How many days in the week will staff typically want to visit the office?
  • Will staff want to come in for focus time? In which case, you may need to more quiet areas.
  • Is the main driver to meet with co-workers? If this is the case, you’ll need more smaller, collaborative areas?

It’s probably going to be a mix of both types, but the reality is, you may never return to a 1:1 ratio of desks to staff.

Covid-secure workspace management

Read more about services to help your enterprise book, provision & manage your workplace for social distancing & beyond.

Having a naming convention for identifying meeting rooms in a large organisation can be a challenge – especially when there’s 100’s of different rooms, floors, room sizes, room types, different locations and so on.

An example we saw at a customer site recently incorporated the following attributes into the actual room name:

‘RESOURCE TYPE’ + ‘LOCATION CODE’ + ‘BUILDING CODE’, ‘FLOOR NUMBER’, ‘ROOM NUMBER’, ‘CAPACITY’, ‘AVAILABLE EQUIPMENT’, ‘ACTUAL ROOM NAME’ resulting in, for example:

ROOM THAMES VALLEY PARK BUILDING 5 GROUND FLOOR 0.01 96 AV VC Chicago 1

Although this might be OK for ‘behind the scenes’ reference purposes, if you are planning to use room panels or interactive floor plans to streamline room and desk bookings, our advice is to present end users with a less onerous name.

Apart from being more aesthetically pleasing on a screen, it’s obvious the resource is a room, and hopefully the staff member will know what building they are in.

So really, the only relevant information is the actual room name ‘Chicago 1’ and its booking status (free/busy). Information like the room capacity and facilities can be included elsewhere on the screen – and not be part of the name.  

Here is a nice example of how a simple room name has been extended to the actual design of the room itself – all of which helps enhance the staff (and visitor) experience.

What about desk numbering schemes?

Likewise for identifying desks, you might contemplate giving all your desks a unique number, instead of using the floor level or wing as part of the desk number.

Why?

To give you an example: I spent ages hammering on the door of a hotel room wondering why my partner was refusing to let me in.  The hotel in question numbered its rooms starting from 1 on each floor, which did not account for the fact that I inadvertently got out of the lift on the wrong floor! Thankfully the occupant of the (wrong) room was out!

An intuitive numbering scheme that by design accommodates the ‘floor level issue’ is to prefix the desk number with the floor number.  E.g. 423 would be desk 23 on the 4th floor.

A further tip if you’re looking at desk booking (and therefore desk numbering) as part of your COVID-19 return to work strategy is to number ALL of your desks, not just those desks that are suitably distanced.

We have seen (and averted) more than one project where the intention was to only give the ‘safely distanced’ desks a consecutive number.  The problem with this is two-fold:

  1. It is not a future-proof strategy as distancing requirements change
  2. It will not lend itself to a flexible workspace booking system in the future (this being an inevitable outcome of the pandemic, as workspaces shrink and evolve to support a now ‘hybrid workforce’).

See our room & desk booking solution in action

There’s many other minor (and major) things to consider when implementing systems designed to streamline your room and resource booking systems, contact us to find out more.

By using workspace more intensively and wisely we can reduce our use of buildings and thus our impact on the environment…

Sir Gus O’Donnell, former cabinet secretary and head of the Home Civil Service

Making the necessary changes that enable workforces to adapt to a shrinking office space – especially where that means adopting ‘non-territorial working’ – requires a multi-discipline strategy involving people, design and technology.

For example:

  • The personal benefits of working from home or having a shorter commute should be made clear as part of a hot-desking initiative – it has to be a two-way contract.
  • Office interiors should be designed to be more vibrant and flexible, with a variety of difference workspaces, storage options and fun areas for socialising – there should be compelling reasons to come into the office for team building.
  • Technology to help remove the stress of booking and finding free workspaces should be adopted.  The needs of other stakeholders such as the facilities management team also need to be addressed by whatever you choose.

If you use Office 365, the great news is that you already have the ideal platform on which to build and streamline resource booking and management.

The room booking benefits that Office 365 offers include:

1. A familiar Outlook & (increasingly familiar) Teams UI –These are the default collaboration and scheduling applications that are already embedded in users’ working practices.

2. Sophisticated calendaring – With Office 365 you have:

  • Support for shared calendars across co-workers
  • The ability to delegate calendar management to team members
  • Support for shared calendars across Outlook & Teams

4. Robust, centralised security –Your existing platform uses Windows auth and AD access rights/privileges to govern access and enable SSO.  This can be used to govern who can book what resource.

3. Advanced scheduling – Powerful tools like the Resource Booking and Scheduling Assistants and Cortana make it easy to find the right time for a group of people and coordinate schedules across multiple time zones.

5. Business continuity – Using regular Outlook calendar and other Microsoft-standard infrastructure means failover and protection against obsolescence is built-in.

6. A reasonably* robust room and resource booking model –You’re probably already using Microsoft’s native resource mailbox capability for booking rooms…

It therefore makes 100% sense that any solution you choose to streamline resource booking and management uses this functionality and doesn’t try to replicate it with a separately managed, secured and disjointed platform.

Available on-premises or in Microsoft Azure, our resource essentials solutions have been developed from the ground up to run in your Microsoft environment and leverage your existing investment in terms of user skills and infrastructure.

This means that issues like user learning curve, security, calendar privacy, delegate access, cross-time zone timings, integration with Microsoft conferencing, duplicate meetings, etc, are all non-issues.

Building directly onto your Office 365 platform we deliver:

  • Smart room and desk booking screens and devices for outside meeting rooms, receptions, lobbies, etc
  • Support for RFID badges and tags for on-screen authentication
  • The ability to book virtually any additional resources such as catering, special requests such as vegan & allergens, equipment, seating layouts
  • Facilities management dashboards for managing catering requests, rearranging meetings
  • Ability to strip meeting subjects out to avoid sensitive information being displayed on booking screens.
  • Management reporting including utilisation reports
  • *Fixing the shortcomings of native resource mailboxes, such as smarter handling of recurring meeting requests, a dashboard for FM/admin staff to manage and view all bookings, visitors, and much, much more.

 

See our room & desk booking solution in action

Discover how we can help you manage your meeting rooms & desk bookings in order to utilise your estates more effectively.

There’s no doubt that Microsoft Outlook Calendar makes a logical place for staff to book resources such as meeting rooms.

Apart from being convenient for end users, behind the scenes, Microsoft Exchange provides an underlying framework that makes it easy to scale and deliver an enterprise-wide solution.

Are you making the most of functionality in Exchange to help with resource bookings?

It’s got virtually every feature you could want of a corporate and indeed a personal diary.  It even has some basic capabilities that make it easier to book rooms and other resources such as equipment and catering.

For example, with Outlook calendar it’s now possible to:

  • Let users list & book meeting rooms according to location
  • View the facilities available in each room (e.g. built-in projector, capacity)
  • Request catering for a meeting
  • Make bookings subject to approval (e.g. by a member of the facilities team)

Written by our resource booking expert, Jim Fussell, our white paper explains what is possible in ‘native’ Microsoft Exchange or Office 365 and Outlook calendar in order to book your meeting rooms & desks.

It also provides tips aimed at technical staff to help them get the most out of these facilities.

See also our new eBook that looks at a new resource type in Microsoft 365 aimed at booking shared workspaces.

See our room & desk booking solution in action!

Discover how you can build on your Microsoft 365 environment to streamline your workspace and facilities bookings.

Having a meeting organiser fail to show when you’re using video conferencing is annoying, but when a physical meeting room, effort on the part of delegates, not to mention a round of coffee and donuts are being wasted, it’s a bad habit that needs to be addressed.

How can you eliminate no-show offenders?

Outlook calendar recurring meetings are a common culprit as they are easy to set (and therefore easy to forget to cancel).

Advising staff on best practices for creating and managing repeat meetings in Outlook is always a good policy (this is a good LinkedIn video).

It’s also possible to limit the number of recurring meetings in Exchange/Office 365 – specifically when they involve resources like meeting rooms (see this Microsoft technical note), but there’s the option to be even more proactive in establishing better habits.

Like BP, you could get ‘hard-core’ and use a ‘3-strikes’ policy that really clamps down on repeat offenders – especially those that abuse the Outlook calendar recurring appointments feature.

Or you can take a ‘softer’ approach to ensure otherwise unused ‘room hours’ get re-allocated by making them immediately available to other staff members.

How to do contactless room & desk booking signage ‘on the cheap’

Sometimes installing room screens and individual desk devices throughout an office space can not only be cost-prohibitive, the job of running wiring (e.g. PoE) can be challenging, especially if you’re in a listed building with 30cm thick walls (like we are).

Now, with Covid-19 ‘in the mix’, having a contactless way to make bookings (not to mention a quick way to roll out a booking system) is a top priority.

Introducing QR Codes

There’s now a virtually zero-cost option to give staff instant room and desk booking ‘in-situ’ using a system that’s more commonly associated with consumer advertising: QR codes.

QR codes are those curious little square 2D barcodes that can be found on adverts, magazines, buses and many other objects.

Instead of using a screen or desk device, you can simply generate a QR code that links to the relevant resource URL* (using a free online service such as http://www.qrstuff.com/) print it, stick it next to the room(s) or desks you want to book, and you’re ready to go!

All your staff need to do is scan the code using their mobile phone/device, which then links to your workspace booking system (get in touch with us to find out what your options are here), in order to check into or book a session or service for that resource.

The QR Code Reader App is available for most devices, free to download* and the codes can be printed onto something as simple as a piece of paper and laminated for a sleeker look.

Simply by scanning the QR signs staff can:

  • View availability through virtually any mobile device.
  • Quickly & easily check in, extend and check out with one click.

Meanwhile you get to make significant savings on screen and installation costs.

See our room & desk booking solution in action!

Discover how we can help you manage your meeting rooms & desk bookings in order to utilise your estates more effectively and provide contactless booking for you workforce.

As you may know, you can use dedicated Microsoft Exchange (Office 365) mailboxes to represent resources such as rooms, desks and equipment, and start booking them using standard Outlook calendar.

Microsoft Outlook calendaring has become a popular way for staff to schedule meetings. Using it to book meeting rooms and other resources such as catering and AV equipment is another way of maximising your current technology infrastructure.

This white paper looks at the ‘native’ functionality available in hybrid Microsoft Exchange/Office 365 and Outlook to aid the process of managing resources.

Importantly, it highlights tips for getting the most out of Exchange resources, including the best strategies for approaching a resource booking project.


Get the white paper

See our room & desk booking solutions in action!

Discover how we can help you manage your meeting rooms & desk bookings in order to utilise your estates more effectively.

?>