people fighting over conference room

How to Share Conference Rooms Between Organizations

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As companies transition to hybrid work models that incorporate both in-person and remote work, they face a new challenge: how to manage their physical workspaces. Conference rooms, in particular, can be a source of frustration for businesses that are looking to balance the need for collaboration with the costs of having conference rooms that sit empty much of the time. With hybrid in-person and remote work, many companies have realized that sharing conference rooms between organizations is a great way to save money and to provide workers with more options to meet in person.

There is, however, one big obstacle to sharing conference rooms between organizations: Microsoft 365 and Google Calendar both make it painful to do so.

Outlook and Google Calendar Make it Hard to Share Conference Rooms

One of the biggest technical problems that arise from sharing conference rooms is that (without CalendarBridge) users can no longer rely on room availability shown in Outlook and Google Calendar – in both Outlook and Google Calendar availability of external users “cannot be shown.”

For example, if West Conference Room is used only by Microsoft 365 customer Contoso Inc., then jane@contoso.com simply opens Outlook, adds in westroom@contoso.com to the invite, and the Outlook Scheduling Assistant shows her when the West Room is available:

Outlook scheduling assistant
When scheduling an internal conference room, Outlook makes it easy to see when the room is available.

But if Contoso shares West Conference Room with Google Workspace customer SolarMora, the experience is not the same for SolaMora users.  Rather, when a SolarMora user adds westroom@contoso.com to an invite in Google Calendar, Google Calendar cannot show the availability of the room:

Google calendar availability unknown for external conference room
When inviting an External Conference Room, Google Calendar cannot show availability of the room

Although this example assumes Contoso is on Microsoft 365 and SolarMora is on Google Calendar, the result is the same if both are on Microsoft 365 or both or on Google: in all cases, availability of external resources cannot be shown in Outlook or Google Calendar.

Because Google Calendar and Outlook do not easily account for shared conference rooms, the question becomes: How can I make it easy for my users to see the availability of shared conference rooms? Most companies turn to a manual room-booking process and/or to separate conference room management software. Both solutions are less efficient and more error prone than being able to view room availability natively in Google Calendar or Outlook. But, is there a way to show availability of conference rooms in Google Calendar and Outlook? Yes…

With CalendarBridge, availability of shared conference rooms becomes viewable natively in Google Calendar and Outlook

CalendarBridge is a cloud-based solution that syncs Google and Outlook calendars together in real-time. By syncing resource calendars between two tenants, users in both tenants can see conference room availability natively in Google Calendar and Outlook.

Returning to our example, enabling SolarMora users to see availability of the shared conference room natively in Google Calendar and Outlook is a simple two-step process:

  1. Create a West Room resource calendar in the solarmora.com tenant.
    • Here is how to create a resource calendar in Google Workspace.
    • Here is how to create a resource calendar in Microsoft 365.
  2. Create 2 CalendarBridge sync connections (Demo video) between the West Room resource calendar on the contoso.com tenant and the West Room resource calendar on the solarmora.com tenant:
Conference room calendars synced with calendarbridge
Each tenant has a calendar corresponding to the conference room. CalendarBridge keeps the calendars in sync in real-time

In summary, CalendarBridge can help organizations overcome the technical challenges associated with sharing conference rooms by ensuring that availability of the shared conference room is always up to date in both organizations calendaring system. With CalendarBridge in place, users can book shared conference rooms natively in Google Calendar and Outlook without any plugins or any manual processes.