Office Hours with Microsoft Bookings
Microsoft Bookings can be a great way to manage office hours and advising appointments. Bookings lets you create any number of "businesses," each with its own calendar of available hours, services offered, and members. Each business will also have its own "Booking Page" which you can share with others so that they can easily and automatically book appointments when you are free. Your Bookings availability is automatically synced with your Outlook calendar, so you don't get double-booked, and you can customize when you are available for different types of meetings. This page offers general guidance for how to use Microsoft Bookings for Office Hours. See How to setup a Microsoft Bookings page for specific setup instructions.
Microsoft Bookings terminology is designed for businesses, but these terms and features can be translated to an academic context:
- "Business": The group or organization through which people are booking appointments. Your business might just include your office hours, or it might include any meetings with you. Your department could even create a single shared "business" to manage all departmental office hours.
- "Services": Businesses can offer any number of services, or types of meetings. Each can have a different name, duration, and availability. Services might include office hours, advising appointments, or any other way you want to categorize your meetings.
- "Staff": [More than one person can be added to a business as "staff."] "Staff" might include the faculty within your department on a shared departmental Bookings page, or a professor and course TAs on an office hours bookings page. Staff can have different availability and be assigned to different services.
The image below is a sample Bookings page. The "business" is "Office Hours Demo," and the "services" are "Office Hours Appointment" and "Advising Appointment."
Sample Booking Page
- [Create a "business" for yourself].
- [Add services] like "Office Hours" and "Advising Meetings" that can be selected for appointments.
- Different services can be set to have a different duration (e.g. 30min vs 60min).
- Services will all draw from the same [calendar of available hours that you set for your business (e.g. MWF 10am-2pm, TF 12-4pm)], but you can override this by customizing availability for specific services (e.g. only offer advising appointments on Tuesdays from 3-4pm).
- Once you add services, you can [create a link to your public-facing Bookings page for appointment signups].
- You can also create public-facing Bookings pages for individual services. When you edit an individual service, Bookings gives you the option to "Share your page for this service" by copying a unique URL. When you share this link, viewers will only have the option of booking that particular service, even if there are others that are part of your business.
- When you are creating a new service, you can add options like duration of meeting and custom email reminders. You can also add built-in buffer time, so you don't get meetings back-to-back.
- For meetings that can be held remotely, you can automatically create a Teams link. Just select the "add online meeting" option when you are creating that service.
- Once you publish your Bookings Page, you can add a link from your email signature, MCLA website, Canvas page, or anywhere else that might be useful.