4 issues not having RSVP – ‘Yes In Person’ is creating for your business
Do you remember hearing that Microsoft was planning to enhance its meeting invitation RSVP options to cope with hybrid meeting scenarios?
Originally chalked for release in late June ’22, the plan was to roll out a more granular RSVP responses in Outlook that allowed invitees to indicate how they planned to attend a meeting:
- Yes, in-person
- Yes, virtually
So why has all mention of this capability disappeared? And what are the knock on effects of this functionality not being available?
Here’s 4 issues issues we can think of:
1. You will waste precious resources, time & bacon butties
Let’s say you have 20 people in your team and you want to organise a ‘hybrid meeting’. You know that not everyone will attend in person, so speculatively book a Teams Room that can accommodate 10.
Without this ‘piece of the jigsaw’ working, you have no way to track who will be attending in person.
- You could end up occupying a Teams room that accommodates 10, but just have 2 people rattling around in it – what a waste of resources!
- Other resources may have been wasted, such as the 10 rounds of bacon butties you pre-ordered.
- You might as well have organised a fully remote meeting and saved the environment: less fuel, less heating, less commute time, etc.
2. Your attempts to manage office occupancy won’t work
The new(ish) Microsoft Workspace resource mailbox is designed to support bookable space types that have an overall capacity associated with them. In theory, this capacity is then enforced by Microsoft Exchange which will allow multiple bookings for a workspace up to the maximum capacity available.
So, for example, let’s say you have a meeting space with video facilities called “Collaboration Zone A” that can physically accommodate 10 people.
A manager could invite their team members to the workspace, and with each member that accepts the invitation, a space out of the available pool of 10 is automatically subtracted.
However, the lack of differentiation between attending in person or remotely means the Workspace counter can’t work as intended. If I RSVP simply ‘Yes’ with the intention to ‘dial in’, the workspace counter would still be decremented as though I was attending in person.
This is a shame, as your plans to introduce new types of collaboration spaces in the office would really benefit from this new workspace resource.
3. Maintaining an accurate view of where people relies on manual updates
If ‘Yes in person’, ‘Yes virtually’, worked as we’d all hoped, a by-product should be that your location in Outlook schedule for the week would be automatically updated.
At present you can manually pre-set your typical location for the week as being ‘Remote’ or ‘Office’, but wouldn’t it be great if this status was automatically updated depending on your RSVP to a meeting?
For example, if you’re normally WFH on a Monday but RSVP ‘Yes, In Person’ to an upcoming meeting on a Monday, it’s conceivable that your status could be changed accordingly.
This would be a real boon to optimising and planning opportunities for in person collaboration, as indicating where you are wouldn’t be dependent on manually setting your location.
Anything that relies on folk remembering to manually change settings like this will typically flounder in our experience.
4. You’ll miss out on precious opportunities to network in person
After several years now of zero commuting time and an ability to more effectively manage work-life balance, employees are looking for a compelling reason to schlep back to the office.
According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Special report, the ability to connect with colleagues could be that compelling reason.
Without ‘RSVP – Yes in person’ working as it should, knowing when your co-workers and friends are likely to be physically in the office remains a challenge.
I for one have turned up to a Teams meeting ‘in person’ thinking it would be a great opportunity to catch up with folk over a chocolate biscuit or three, only to realise that most people had opted to join in remotely.
Business leaders too are grappling with the issue of in-person office meetings.
The same mentioned article also highlighted that 82% of business managers were concerned about the loss of valuable opportunities for networking, sharing skills, and harnessing creative energy that are unique to in-person meetings within the workplace.
This last point was flagged when Microsoft introduced its concept of Microsoft’s ‘Places’ – particularly in relation to the phenomenon of commute-regret*.
Of course, you could use third party workspace booking systems to help connect in person with your colleagues more easily, and this is something we can offer, but it’s such a shame that it’s not ‘baked in’ to vanilla Teams and Outlook.
Google Workspace has it, so why not Outlook and Teams?
If you’ve come across more gotchas why ‘Yes, in person’ isn’t working yet, we’d love to hear from you!
*Commute-regret refers to the frustrating experience of commuting to the office only to find oneself alone and performing tasks that could have been accomplished remotely.