This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Imagine you could book an office to work anywhere in the world. Now imagine this could be done in Outlook. Well, we have built a feature to let you do that! We have built this in Outlook for Windows, Mac and Outlook on the web users with Exchange Online mailboxes.

In the image below you can see the room finder has a new ‘type’ drop down. In the drop down you would be able to select workspace or conference room. Here’s what users can expect to see in Outlook for Windows:

workspace01.jpgThe same rich capability in Outlook on the web:

workspace02.jpgAnd for those cool kids with a Mac, the same great experience. No matter what client your users choose, they can use this feature just the same:

workspace03.jpg

What is a workspace?

A workspace is a physical location where employees can work from. It can be made up of many desks or can be a single desk. The way you book a workspace is very similar to how you book a conference room in Outlook. The same policies that can apply for a conference room can also apply for a workspace.

The main difference with workspaces is that they have a capacity and a minimum booking duration requirement. Workspaces can be booked by the number of people that the capacity was set for. Capacity refers to the total capacity of the workspace. For example, if a workspace has 10 desks but has been already booked to 50% capacity, only 5 people can book that workspace for a specific time period. If the 11th person tries to book the same workspace, it will be shown as unavailable and they will receive an automatic decline.

How do your users book a workspace?

  1. Open the Outlook calendar and create a “new event”. A minimum duration of 3 hours is needed for workspace booking. We recommend booking a workspace as an all-day event.
  2. Set the “Show as” status to “Free” so the invite doesn’t block your calendar.
  3. Open the “Room finder” by selecting the location input and then “Browse with Room Finder”.
  4. Select your building from the drop-down and “Workspace” option from the “Type” drop-down. If you don’t see a workspace option, then your building may not have workspaces (or they have not been defined yet – see below for how to do that).
  5. Browse available workspaces. Availability is shown based on if there is at least one available space for the duration of this booking.
  6. Save the event and then the user will get the auto-generated email confirming the booking:

workspace04.jpg

Note: Additional attendees can be added to an invite and a seat will be reserved for them if available. If the number of additional attendees added to the invite exceeds the number of available seats, then the booking will be rejected.

How do you create a workspace?

Configuring a workspace is very similar to how you would configure a conference room. The key to defining a room mailbox as the workspace is adding the word ‘space’ into the Custom Attribute 11 for the room.

Step 1: Create a new mailbox as a space using New-Mailbox

New-Mailbox {alias} -Room -CustomAttribute11 “space”

Step 2: Add required metadata using Set-Place. For tenants who chose to create rooms on-prem and sync to the cloud (Hybrid) you will want to use set-user and set-mailbox for the properties you can set, some of which follow:

  • Capacity
  • Street
  • City
  • State
  • Postal code
  • CountryOrRegion
  • GeoCoordinates
  • Floor

Step 3: Add workspace to an appropriate roomlist (distribution group) so the workspace shows up in a particular building, for example:

Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity “Building 32” -Member wkspace3223@contoso.com 

Note: Today, the capacity is configurable by the tenant admin. The minimum booking duration is not configurable and is currently set to 180 mins or 3 hours. In the future, we will make this policy configurable. Also, distribution groups or lists cannot be added to the booking request. Individual people can be added, and workspace bookings will count the capacity of all attendees on the request. Please note it may take up to 24 hours for workspaces and new room list to appear in the room finder.

Summary

The Outlook on the web feature is starting to roll out to all Office 365 commercial customers now. Outlook for Windows will start rolling out in the next couple of weeks and will follow the room finder roll out staging noted in this link. Outlook for Mac will be available to all Insider Fast users using the new Outlook for Mac.

We would love to know if these features help your users plan and manage their meetings and if finding the right rooms is now easier for them.

Please, tell us what you think in the comments below, in our UserVoice channel or using the in-product smile feature.

Thank you!

Victoria Rodriguez

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

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