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 email@example.com simply opens Outlook, adds in firstname.lastname@example.org to the invite, and the Outlook Scheduling Assistant shows her when the West 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 email@example.com to an invite in Google Calendar, Google Calendar cannot show the 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:
- Create a West Room resource calendar in the solarmora.com tenant.
- 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:
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.