Why Recurring Teams Meetings Share the Same Online Workspace

Recognizing an Online Meeting

A Year or so ago, I wrote about how Outlook recognized online meetings created in Skype for Business Online and Teams. In a nutshell, the Teams meeting add-in for Outlook populates a set of MAPI properties like OnlineMeetingConfLink in the calendar event to allow the user to join the online meeting. The Teams calendar app also populates these properties and Outlook and the calendar app use these properties to recognize the event as an online event and associate the link with the Join button shown in meeting reminders and other places in the client UI.

To allow meeting participants to navigate to the online workspace, several properties of the calendar event such as OnlineMeetingConfLink store joining information. For a Teams online meeting, OnlineMeetingConfLink holds a deeplink to the online workspace which hosts the meeting resources like the chat, whiteboard, notes, and participant list. Once created, the online space is available for any participant to join, even if the starting time for the meeting is a long time in the future. This facility exists to allow people to prepopulate a meeting with resources, like notes or shared files, before it begins. Likewise, a meeting persists after its formal end time to allow participants to access its resources after the meeting finishes.

Clicking the Join button (or the Join Microsoft Teams Meeting link in the body of the meeting item) starts the process of joining the meeting, which might involve navigating through a web page to choose how to join and waiting in a lobby to be admitted.

Recurring Meetings Have the Same Workspace

Recurring meetings are created in a series to occur at the same time at set intervals, such as every week or every month. Figure 1 shows the Teams calendar app scheduling a recurring meeting to occur monthly. From an Outlook perspective, each meeting is a separate event in a series of meetings.

Scheduling a recurring meeting with the Teams calendar app
Figure 1: Scheduling a recurring meeting with the Teams calendar app

Teams uses the same online workspace for all the meetings in the series. You can see this by examining the deeplink added to the events (Figure 2). They are all the same.

Viewing the URI for the online workspace used by a Teams meeting
Figure 2: Viewing the URI for the online workspace used by a Teams meeting

The value of this approach is that all the meetings in the series share the same resources. A chat started in one meeting is carried on to the next; the notes from previous meetings are available in future meetings, and so on. For example, Figure 3 shows a sequence of chats generated after joining multiple events in a recurring meeting. There is nothing to distinguish the messages sent in one meeting from those sent in another; they are all merged into a single stream.

A meeting chat made up from several meetings
Figure 3: A meeting chat made up from several Teams meetings in a recurring seroes

The same is true for other assets like meeting notes (Figure 4). In this case, a separate section is used for each meeting to identify the notes taken for individual events.

Meeting notes generated from multiple Teams meetings
Figure 4: Meeting notes generated from multiple Teams meetings

The Downside of the Common Workspace

Sharing a common workspace for all instances of a recurring meeting makes sense to some but not all users. Unless it’s explained how Teams leverages the shared workspace for all meetings in a series, it’s common to find that people expect that each instance in a series should be treated as a standalone event with its own resources. This isn’t the case and won’t be the case unless the Teams development group reverses course, which then means that if you consider that it’s best to separate each event, you need to create individual meetings. New access rules for meetings being rolled out in December 2020 will help, but individual meetings are the best way to go if you want to have sure control over meeting resources.

Scheduling individual meetings forces Teams to create a different workspace for each meeting and the assets generated for the meeting will be associated with that workspace. The downside of this approach is that it’s obviously much easier to create a single recurring meeting to occur monthly than to create twelve individual meetings.


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