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Microsoft 365 is seriously late to the party with this important hybrid working feature

A person at a computer taking part in a virtual meeting.
(Image credit: stock.adobe.com @ insta_photos)

Avoiding embarrassing meeting snafus could soon be a lot easier thanks to a long-awaited new update from Microsoft 365.

The software suite has revealed that users will finally be able to specify where and how they will be attending meetings using its Outlook email service.

Going forward, Outlook users will now be able to specify whether they will attend a meeting in-person or online.

Outlook RSVP

Microsoft says this feature will be useful not just for the workers, but also for those planning meetings, who can best prepare by booking a room with video conferencing resources or bringing an external speaker.

The update was first revealed back in September 2021 as part of a larger hybrid working push by Microsoft, but the company has now said the tool is finally set to begin rolling out soon. It is marked as general availability, meaning all Outlook and Exchange users should be able to access it upon release.

The update comes a number of weeks after Google announced an identical feature for Gmail, as Google Calendar users are now able to specify whether they will be attending a meeting either virtually or in-person in their email RSVP.

The function had initially been added to Google Calendar back in July 2021 during the initial hybrid working peak, with Google noting this would, "help meeting attendees know what to expect when joining a meeting, and prepare accordingly."

Ironically given today's news, Google's RSVP options are not shared with contacts on other platforms, such as Microsoft Outlook.

Google Calendar also recently launched a "Focus time" feature that allows users to block out periods of time where they can avoid meetings and get their heads down for actual work.

Setting such a marker in your Google Calendar will also allow users to automatically decline meetings, meaning no last-minute rush to finish off work.

Mike Moore is News & Features Editor across both TechRadar Pro and ITProPortal. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.