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Why Outlook and Google Calendar just don’t cut it for meeting room booking

The Robin Team
Published on

10 reasons why employees can’t stand booking meeting rooms with the sole help of Google or Outlook calendar systems.

You’re either thinking, “My company uses Google just fine, thank you very much,” or “Oh, Outlook room booking, how I loathe thee.” If you nodded along to the first statement, you may be blind to the issues the rest of the office is going through. Anyone who has worked at least 6 months in a corporate environment and has booked several meetings a week knows the anxiety and stress that results from booking a room using only Outlook or Google Calendar.

What I didn’t realize is how serious and widespread the problem is. Turns out, when you ask colleagues and friends to share their worst moments, people unleash on how frustrating the experience has been over the years. Granted, some of the frictions are due to a specific company’s setup of the calendars, like changing the default meeting duration or incorrectly naming rooms. But even administrative access seems to be limited for both Outlook and Google Calendars, while the end user experience is a guess and check process at best.

Top 10 Worst Room Booking Scenarios with Outlook and Google Calendar

1. This employee had to practically make flashcards of the room names in Outlook's Calendar to search for them efficiently.

“The search capabilities in Outlook are limited, so you often have to memorize the conference room names beforehand in order to quickly add them to your invite, check availability, and then finally book the one you need. Seems like a waste of mental energy.”

Michael Scott from NBC's The Office Giphy Memorizing Room Names in Outlook
Image from NBC’s The Office, via Giphy

2. A director at a major brand risked a huge client meeting when a room didn’t officially book in Outlook.  

When you add a room by memory to the location field in Outlook, sometimes it formally adds the room to the invite to officially book it, and sometimes it doesn’t. I was almost stuck room-less for a huge client meeting one time because of this -- not a great look.”

“Also, sometimes you think you’ve properly booked an available room, but then the room’s admin never confirms or confirms last minute, so you’re SOL. And the only way to find a new room is to open your laptop to pull up Outlook while you’re juggling a water bottle, phone, and lunch, because of course your day is too busy to not have a lunch meeting.

AMC's Mad Men Roger Sterling Juggling Outside a Meeting Room
Image from AMC’s Mad Men, via Giphy

3. For employees that often book in other campuses or areas of the office, the room search in either Google Cal or Outlook is impossible.

If set up properly, Outlook and Google Calendar can provide some search functionality but for the most part you have no idea where rooms are located, how many people they can realistically hold, what they look like, or what the full amenities are.”“Can't find where something is based on the Outlook or Google invite? Only having a half-baked map UI for each level that's hard to search made things hard to find. even  if you knew the level the map plans were not intuitive as to the direction of the floor.”

4. A tech-savvy colleague found Outlook's Calendar UI a struggle.

It’s never clear what the Outlook best practices are to book a room with the various options and outcomes -- should you click Rooms or Scheduling Assistant? Why do some rooms come up as People instead of Rooms?”

5. People can’t rely on a mobile app when checking calendars on the go.

“Outlook doesn't have an app...actually I guess they do. Which basically negates the fact that they have one since I’m assuming no one knows about it.  Meanwhile, if you use your iPhone’s calendar app, the integration with Outlook's calendar is mediocre at best.”

Neil Patrick Harris iPhone Giphy Confused about Mobile App for Room Booking
Image from How I Met Your Mother, via Giphy

6. A manager prepping for an important proposal couldn’t find a room with the right AV.

“When you book a room with Outlook or Google, there's no opportunity to clarify AV needs. So someone might have an AV room but not need the capability, and they are taking that space away from someone who actually needs it - like an agency presentation, client meeting, etc.”

“Need to have recurring standups for video over next few months? Good luck looking through Outlook between dozens of campuses to find a conference room near you to have your meetings that have good video conferencing setups.”

The IT Crowd Angry Throwing Computer when Meeting Room Booking Doesn't Work
Image from The IT Crowd, via Giphy

7. Busy team members can never find impromptu meeting space when things come up.

“Need to find a place for a private meeting in the next hour? you'll probably need to go halfway across campus to find something last minute.”

"I almost want to carry a book bag around with me so I can juggle my belongings and open up my laptop to find a meeting room at the last second."

Taken Liam Neeson Good Luck Using Google or Outlook to Find a Meeting Room
Image from Taken, via Giphy

8. Office Managers and Admins end up being the meeting room babysitters when everyone asks for help booking a room last minute.

“I must spend half my day helping people find a room since I’m the admin on all of them. These calendar systems simply don’t display available rooms easily enough. Also, people don’t 100% trust the system when they do book last minute, so they just come to me.”

9. Employees at one company could never find a conference room for larger meetings because the capacity was off in Outlook's Calendar.

“Anytime you had to find a conference room that fit more than 10 people, it was quite the pain. Capacity wasn't really vetted, and while it said it fits 12, it fits 12 very uncomfortably and was more meant for 8.”

Parks and Rec Leslie Knope Can Never Find Right Meeting Room Size
Image from NBC's Parks and Rec, via Giphy

10. One meeting manager gets frustrated with the Add a Location field in Google Calendar.

“I know the go-to room I want, so I don’t know why the Add a Location field seems to only work for actual Google Map locations instead of rooms inside your own office. The likelihood of a meeting happening outside your own office is probably 5%.”

Spongebob Giphy Angry with Computer When you Can't Add Location in Google Calendar
Image from Nickelodeon's Spongebob, via Giphy


If you were able to relate to at least one of these pain points, chances are your colleagues can check off the rest of them. And if these frictions don’t seem serious enough to warrant an upgrade, consider how much unnecessary time and stress these issues add to your day. The good news is there’s a better way, and it doesn’t require changing anything about your existing calendar and email platforms. Our office scheduling platform works with Outlook and Google to help remove these annoying mishaps so you can get back to the work that actually matters.

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