You have an important presentation to give, but the projector isn’t where it should be. So, you go frantically searching around the office to see who may have it.
Two teams show up at the conference room at the same time, not realizing they both double booked their meetings over each other.
These are just a couple of the common scenarios that happen in offices every day. Managing meeting rooms and company assets can be challenging, and not managing them right leads to problems, miscommunications, and lost productivity.
Some companies try using a sign-in sheet, but it often gets lost or is filled up and isn’t replaced. Soon, everyone is reverting to just using what they need and hoping no one else needs it at the same time.
What if you had a cloud-based system that was as easy as sending an email that would keep track of all your resources and who was using them?
If you use Microsoft 365 business email, you can do just that by using a Resource Mailbox.
What is a “Resource” or “Room” Mailbox?
A resource mailbox is a mailbox in Outlook that you assign to a specific company resource for the purpose of reserving it and knowing who is using it at any time.
You can use a resource mailbox for just about any company asset, including:
- Conference rooms
- Media/technology equipment
- Company vehicle
- Equipment (paint sprayer, ladder, etc.)
Anything that is a shared resource at your business and needs to be reserved and tracked would benefit from having a resource mailbox.
In the Microsoft 365 admin center, you’ll find the setup for this type of mailbox under Resources > Rooms & Equipment.
When adding a resource mailbox, you’ll be able to designate it as a room or equipment. If it’s a room, you can enter the room capacity. For security, you’ll want to block sign-in for equipment mailboxes, since they’re not used for sending email, just for reserving the resource.
How Do We Use Resource Mailboxes at Our Company?
As a first step, you’ll want to assign an Outlook resource mailbox to any resources that you want to track.
These mailboxes can then be added like users when you schedule a meeting or would like to reserve equipment.
It’s important to note that the mailbox you set up for a conference room, for example, won’t be the one you use to organize the meeting. You’ll simply add the room’s resource mailbox to a new meeting as you would any other colleague that you’re inviting to the meeting.
Here are the steps to take after you’ve assigned a mailbox to your shareable assets. (Images are from Microsoft)
Schedule a Meeting
In Outlook, schedule a new meeting. Do this even if you are simply reserving a company car, not holding a meeting. In that case the “meeting” would be the days/times that you wish to use the vehicle.
Add the Room/Equipment as a Meeting Attendee
Since the equipment or meeting room you wish to use has a mailbox set up for it, you’ll be able to add it to your meeting as an attendee. Add it as well as any human attendees you are inviting to your meeting.
Set Your Meeting Parameters
Next, set the meeting parameters, including the date(s), start and end time and whether the need for that asset is recurring. You can add a location if you like or leave that at the default.
Use Scheduling Assistant to Check Availability
Now, use the Scheduling Assistant option at the top of the meeting scheduling interface to see if the asset you want to schedule is available.
You’ll see a timeline next to all attendees that you’ve invited that will let you know whether or not they are available during the time frame you set. A blue bar means the room or equipment is already reserved, white means it is available.
Schedule and Send
Once you’ve confirmed the asset you want to reserve is available, you can send your meeting invitation. This will reserve the asset during your designated time. Anyone else needing that same asset will know that someone else is using it before they try to book it for the same time.
Advantages of Using Resource Mailboxes for Rooms & Equipment
You do not have to purchase an additional product license to use resource mailboxes, which makes them a great added benefit of using Microsoft 365 for your business email.
Beyond being free, if you’re already using Microsoft 365 email, here are some of the other benefits:
- Stop double booking of meeting rooms and equipment
- Know who had an expensive piece of equipment last
- It’s a system that employees already know how to use if they use Outlook to schedule meetings
- It makes scheduling assets more efficient
- Takes less time to keep up with room and equipment scheduling
Supercharge Your Email & Business Efficiency with Microsoft 365
Does your business email solution help you with other efficiency tasks, like managing your resources? If you’ve been looking for a better email solution, Unbound Digital can help you simplify and power your business using Microsoft 365
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 423-335-2461 or reach us online.