Cutting out paper – updating your room booking system

Cutting Out Paper icon

I promised a month’s worth of ideas to help with cutting out paper use in your school/TAFE/university, so that you could have an institutional New Year’s Resolution. So here’s the first idea from my colleague James Marshall on his UK [email protected] blog:

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get rid of that pile of paper/book/binder, that holds all the bookings for a particular room or piece of equipment?

Well, if you get smart with your email system you can by using resource mailboxes to handle room and resource bookings.

There are two types of resource mailbox: room, and equipment. By creating them for your users, you allow them to book meetings and events electronically rather than writing their name down on a paper diary, or having to go and pester the secretary every time you want the main auditorium/hall, or an IT suite for a project.

It helps because it:

  • Reduces amount of paper used
  • Allows people to see if the room/resource is available immediately
  • Speeds up the booking process
  • Allows people to make bookings wherever they are, as long as they can access the Internet
  • Bookings can be restricted, moderated, and denied by rules, or by a nominated individual

James gave out three tips for success, and having used resource scheduling for years, I completely agree with these from a user’s perspective:

  • When naming rooms pick a convention and stick to it: Give your users an easy time by making it clear what each room has, for example a room called M1 that can seat 35, has audio, video, interactive whiteboard and black & white printing facilities might be listed as “M1 (35) A/V, IWB, B&W”. Use this convention with all your rooms and people will see at a glance the important details.
  • Ditch the paper today: Once you’ve created the mailboxes run a couple of light training sessions, or distribute a one-page guide on how to use them and then get rid of the paper straight away. Force your staff and students to change their ways, otherwise you’ll end up with a mix of paper/electronic booking and this can lead to confusion.
  • Don’t allow block bookings: I know what you’re thinking – by doing this some clever person will book a room every week, all year, even if they don’t need it. Use some of the features of the resource mailboxes to restrict the number of consecutive bookings someone can make to prevent them from hogging.

How do you create resource mailboxes for rooms or resources?

Creating these mailboxes is really easy – there are some great guides online that talk about exactly how to do it, so rather than cover that here, take a look at the help info for whichever mail service you are using – Exchange and Outlook onsite, or either of our education mail services in the Cloud – [email protected] or Office 365:

Although I’ve given this as a tip to help with Cutting out Paper, it’s actually even more valuable as a time-saving tip – once everybody has got used to it, they’ll be surprised they ever had to do this manually with pen and paper.

Read more ideas to help cut out paper