Microsoft Search helps users find relevant content, the correct answers, or people. Search administrators use their knowledge of the organization and its users to make it easy for users to find relevant content. This blog post will cover how you can prepare information about employees to place them on a floor plan for office buildings. Locating colleagues made easy!
This type of setup is part of my mindset of using as many features as possible from the Microsoft 365 licenses, often triggered through configuration and maintenance of information that provides value throughout the product line.
This functionality will add value when searching for colleagues in the office landscape or even when searching for the closest meeting room.
Table of Contents
Demo Locating Colleagues Made Easy
Let me demonstrate the goal of this operation. When starting Microsoft Edge, we find a search bar. I’ll start a search for a colleague (or my self) in this bar.
The result found under “ALL” will be a combination of information I have access to internally in the company and information available on the Internet. On the Contact card, I’ll see information about me.
By clicking the Office tab or the Office location, I will get a floor plan with the registered office location pinned. This allows for locating colleagues easily when searching for the best colleague. This information can also be used to find the nearest meeting space etc.
Users can see these floor plan answers on Bing, SharePoint, and Office 365. Query patterns that include full name, first name, room name, or room location will give a floor plan answer.
We need to enrich Microsoft 365 with some configuration and knowledge to achieve this functionality. The following will be configured:
- Building Codes
- Floor Plans
- Room Labels
- Location Codes
Once this is in place, users can have the Office attribute set correctly to provide this form of added value.
The glue in this setup is the logic for naming buildings and office locations. This will give unique describing names, which will be added to the office location attribute of each user.
In my example above, the address for the building is “Grandfjæra 22A, 6416 Molde, Norway”. We have thus created a building code. For this project, we decided to base this on the 3-letter code from the nearest airport and a code for the street name and number. This made the building code “mol-gf22a”. Each building in the company must have a unique code.
Floor Plans and Room Labels
Each floor in the building must have a map/drawing in DWG format with text labels on each room/area which should be addressed and mapped. This room label will link the office location attribute on the user accounts to the graphical map layout. The room label should contain floor numbers and room numbers. These elements should be in the mentioned order without any spacers.
In my example above, the office location was in the 4th floor with room number 16. This gave the room label “0416”. The DWG file of the floor plan has been updated with such room labels for all interesting spaces.
An office location will be constructed from the building code and the room label from the floor plan. From the initial demo in this blog post, you will see the office location code to be constructed of the building code “mol-gf22a” and the room label “0416” giving the location “mol-gf22a/0416”.
These codes are constructed for all users with an assigned work location and added to their user profiles in Azure Active Directory.
The field used for storing the office location is named PhysicalDeliveryOfficeName.
Microsoft 365 Configuration
The configuration is performed in the Microsoft 365 admin center.
The buildings will be defined as Locations. Go to Settings – Search & Intelligence – Answers – Locations and select Add location. Enter the name, address, and keywords for the buildings in your organization.
The office locations will now be indexed as a one-time operation, which can take as long as 48 hours to complete depending on the organization’s size. This operation can be manually started from the Floor Plans menu, next to Locations. If you don’t see an option to begin indexing, the step has been completed.
Once the office locations have finished indexing, we can upload floor plans. This is done by selecting a building from the drop-down list and uploading a DWG file of the floor where the room labels have been prepared as text labels.
The building code will be added to the floor plan. Following our example, the building code will be “mol-gf22a”.
When publishing it takes another 48 hours for the floor plans to be published and available in Microsoft Search with search results similar to the one shown in the start of this blog post.
The text labels are compared to the office location on the user profiles. If the naming convention is inconsistent, you can use the specified location pattern screen to add more information to complete the mapping. This is often used to extract floor, wing, and room information from the office location in Azure AD.
The following articles from Microsoft have been used to spin this solution up, and these resources contain in-depth information and answers to frequently asked questions:
[…] If you click on a colleague from the Search field, you will have more information available on that specific person as found in the system. This will help you bond with the collegiate, and it shows the importance of keeping the catalog current. Here you will find a shortcut to the floorplan as described in one of my previous blog posts. […]