Meeting room booking
Room & workspace booking benefits that Microsoft 365 has to offer
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.
- Communication: Although desk sharing is a logical consequence of hybrid working, having to ‘give up’ a dedicated workspace may be demoralising to individuals. This means the way in which a hot-desking initiative is introduced needs to be done sensitively, with the benefits for all clearly outlined.
- Design: 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: Solutions 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 Microsoft 365, the great news is that you already have the ideal platform on which to build and streamline resource booking and management.
1. A familiar Outlook & (increasingly familiar) Teams UI
These are the default collaboration and scheduling applications that are already embedded in users’ working practices. Booking a meeting room, a Teams room or a workspace is possible within Outlook or Teams, at the same time as booking a meeting with co-workers and individuals outside of the organisation, and using native functionality.
2. Sophisticated calendaring
With Microsoft 365 you have:
- Support for shared calendars across co-workers
- The ability to delegate calendar management to team members
- A single calendar across Outlook & Teams
3. Robust, centralised security
Your existing platform uses Windows auth and AD access rights/privileges to govern access and enable single sign-on.
4. 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 robust room and resource booking model
To allow users to book meeting rooms at the same time as scheduling a meeting, Microsoft 365 offers the concept of resource mailboxes.
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.
There are now 3 types of resource mailboxes for representing Rooms, Equipment, and more recently Workspaces (which is a bookable space type that has an overall capacity associated with it).
You can associate attributes such as capacity and accessibility. Furthermore put these resources into lists that reflect their location.
So now, when you’re searching for a meeting room – or other workspace – a neat thing you can do in Outlook* is use a service called the ‘Room Finder’ that lets you start narrowing down your search according to the city (and then the building) you want to visit, and the facilities you need in the workspace.
This is thanks to the Room Finder, which when used in combination with well-defined room lists and attributes, lets you select available workspaces from a drop down list.
*At the time of writing this capability was limited in Teams.
With all this great – and evolving – functionality on hand, it makes 100% sense that any solution you choose to streamline resource booking and management builds on this functionality and doesn’t try to replicate it with a separately managed, secured and disjointed platform.
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 Microsoft 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
- Leveraging of Active Directory for ‘baked in’ permissions & policy management to govern who can book what and when, and who can amend bookings, etc.
- 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.
Build on your Microsoft 365 environment
Discover how we can help you manage your meeting rooms & desk bookings in order to utilise your estates more effectively.