Use Microsoft Bookings as room and desk planner (back to the office)

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As a member of the Power Platform community, I love the initiatives to make applications available to organizations to face the challenges of this pandemic era. The platform has proven itself and offers the possibility to create professional solutions within a few days. But as a solution architect I like to keep an open mind towards all the services within the Microsoft cloud ecosystem and there are some (former) Business Apps that offer out-of-the-box functionality that can be of help. One of them is Microsoft Bookings, that is available for Office 365 Education A3/A5, Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions, and as free add-on for Office 365 Enterprise E3/E5 subscriptions but will become part of these subscriptions beginning May 12, 2020. Microsoft Bookings will also be integrated in Microsoft Teams as app, see the recent announcement: Microsoft Bookings expands availability in enterprises.

Microsoft published an article about using Microsoft Bookings to enable healthcare organizations a simple way to schedule and conduct B2C appointments via Microsoft Teams.

But we can also use Microsoft Bookings as room and desk planner for organizations that are going to welcome back their employees in the offices but need to plan the occupation of the available desks.

Make sure that Bookings is enabled for your organization in the settings of the Microsoft 365 admin center.

First we create a room mailbox for every desk that should be available as “staff” (resource) in the Exchange admin center. Set Booking delegates: Automatically accept or decline booking requests.

Open Bookings via the app launcher and add a booking calendar, for your department or office building.

You could combine this with the floor plans in Microsoft Search to guide employees to their desk. See the best practices for Microsoft Search floor plans to make it work.

Add the bookable desks as Staff. Search for the right room mailbox and set the room/desk number as initials.

Add a new service for the use of a desk, for instance for the whole day.

You can assign “staff” (resources) to this service (in case of meeting special requirements), or do not assign if every resource should be available for this service. After saving there’s a URL available to share a page for this service.

You can add the employees as customers to the system, manually or through import.

Now we’re all set to create and publish the booking page to make it available for the employees of the department or office. To keep the booking page for internal use only, enable the access control settings.

Adjust the settings for the Scheduling policy, Email notifications, Staff and Availability to your needs.

Publish the booking page to make it available via the URL that is shown.

Now we can test/use the published booking page by opening it.
Select a service (desk for whole or half day), day plus start time, and the staff (resource).

Add your details and click the Book button.

This will add the booking to the booking calendar and the calendar of the room mailbox.

The employee will receive a confirmation of the booking with an .ics file to add to his/her calendar, and the option to manage the booking in case of rescheduling or cancelling it.

So Microsoft Bookings can be a great help in planning the occupation of the desks in your offices!

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Addendum:
You could create a room mailbox for every room (instead of desk) that should be available as “staff” (resource) in the Exchange admin center. Set Capacity, Booking delegates: Automatically accept or decline booking requests.

When creating a service you can set the maximum number of attendees equal to the capacity of the room.
If the rooms (staff) differ in capacity then assign the rooms that meet the maximum number of attendees with their capacity.

Now based on this so-called Group bookings the service can be booked multiple times for the same time slot.
Note: This feature is still rolling out and might not be available in your organization yet, see official documentation.

4 comments

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this! it looks great and super east to follow. One question, do you know if there is any functionality to allow users/staff to have visibility on the calendars? This is so that Staff can book the same days in for collaboration etc…

    Thanks again,
    Moe Ali

    1. Hi Moe,
      You can add the calendar of the room mailbox to Outlook. Search for it in the Address book, select and add it.

  2. This solution will not allow employees to book desks from MS Teams and booking mobile app so no integration between the apps.

    Only staff and owner can book desks from ms teams and booking mobile app.

    If we add users as staff, they will seeing themselves as resource in calendar so is there anyway to hide staffs in booking calendar either in teams bookings app or in bookings mobile app.

    Note: deselecting staff option is not good solution as users.

    And if users want to book via booking app in teams or in mobile they should be provided admin access.

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