Case Studies

Book your room, your desk, or a robot? The National Robotarium uses Skedda to book everything from hot desks to robots

The National Robotarium

On the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland, The National Robotarium provides a modern and imposing facility dedicated to expanding the robotics footprint in the UK. Their areas of focus are talent development, scientific research and development, industry adoption, data analytics, and entrepreneurship.

Scientific Research

Edinburgh, Scotland


Book your room, your desk, or a robot?

As a joint partnership between Heriot-Watt University and The University of Edinburgh supported by the UK and Scottish governments, the National Robotarium operates as both a research and learning center as well as an incubator for exciting new startups in the robotics space. At any given time, they have scientific experts, robot engineers and technicians, project and business managers, startup founders, and visitors — all using their premises. 

Challenges: Streamlining workspace management across multiple organizations

Soon after opening in September of 2022, the COO of the National Robotarium Steve Maclaren realized they needed a system that could house both University research teams and startup teams. 

“When we opened, the University had an on-premise core system that was for University staff only. My tenant companies that do not have user accounts with the University could not have access.”

Maclaren needed a solution that allowed for different types of users and one that was customizable to both the needs of the Robotarium’s tenants and researchers. They needed software that had:

  1. Simple onboarding: The ability to easily onboard users from diverse organizations, with SSO as an option for internal teams. 
  2. Booking permissions: Systematically assigned permissions that allow only users with technical knowledge to book labs, workshops, or even robots.
  3. A user-friendly floor plan: An accurate and interactive floor plan of their space. 
  4. Space descriptions: Add a description of each available space with the ability to request additional information from their users.
  5. Software integrations: Integrate with the workplace software they were already using, like MS365. 
  6. Building analytics: See occupancy analytics of how the Robotarium is being used by the team and the tenant companies. 

The Solution:

The National Robotarium found Skedda shortly before they opened their doors and loved its robust customization and the ease with which users could be onboarded. 

“Once a user has been onboarded with the right tags, they’re logged in and don’t need any training. They have a great map and can immediately start using the space.” - Steve Maclaren, Chief Operating Officer at The National Robotarium

When asked about which Skedda features were the most important, Maclaren highlighted: 

Floor plans: Skedda’s interactive floor plans make it easy to see who books each resource and what resources are available on any given day. “My teams think it is very easy to use and love that they can see where their colleagues are sitting on the map,” said Maclaren. 

User Tags: Skedda’s user tags help manage who is approved to book hot desks, request events, and access certain tools and machinery. A User Tag is a label that can be attached to an individual user or a group of users.

Once a user has tags, their Skedda experience will be driven by the rules and policies that their admin has specified for this tag. For example, only a subset of the Robotarium’s employees have the technical skills required to use the engineering labs so an “Engineering Team” tag is required to book these labs. 

Custom Fields: Skedda’s custom booking fields allow administrators to add intake forms to their space booking process to collect any important information. The National Robotarium uses an event form that helps the managing team determine production needs when a large event is booked. 

“Every week we review Skedda to see which large event bookings we have received. Because of the custom fields we have added to the Skedda booking form, we know the event size and the capacity of the room, which helps organize resources and catering accordingly.” - Steve Maclaren, Chief Operating Officer at The National Robotarium

Integrations:  The National Robotarium integrates its Skedda account with its Microsoft 365 workspace, to ensure that bookings made on Skedda get passed onto staff member’s calendars. Two-way sync with MS365 keeps everyone’s calendar running smoothly.

The Result: A solution for everyone

The main pain point that drove Maclaren to search for a new space management solution was addressed — now all of their tenants and employees can access the same space booking platform. “I just need an email, and I can onboard anyone,” he said. They have enabled SSO for members of Heriot-Watt University, and users from their resident robotics startups also have access to the platform. 

Spaces are much more than meeting rooms and desks 

For The National Robotarium, booking a “space” in Skedda can mean a variety of things; in addition to desks and meeting rooms, spaces also include specialty printers, labs, robots, and even a tour booking! The flexibility of the software allows them to mold the features and functionality to fit their exact needs. 

“What’s more, now that we have MS365 two-way sync, anytime my executive assistant books a tour, I don’t have to go digging around in my inbox. It appears right in my calendar and I know straight away what I’m doing that day,” Maclaren remarked. 

Additionally, the ease with which administrators can add and remove spaces has allowed him to section out rooms within his space “so everything is online for everybody to see and easily onboard.” 

Robust analytics to help investors see the return on their investment 

Skedda’s insights panel allows Maclaren to track the utilization of spaces over time: “I’ve noticed the utilization of the rooms has gone through the roof.”  They also use these insights to provide investors with updates on how the building is being used. Skedda reports provide previously unavailable metrics that visualize how tenants and researchers are using the space and equipment to further the UK’s robotics footprint. 

Maclaren’s employees and his startup tenants all had positive reactions to the new system—so much so that it's now part of the organization’s lingo:

“No one is arguing over who’s got a meeting room anymore! Check Skedda, that’s the go-to.”

When asked about advice he would give to any organization considering Skedda, Maclaren remarked, “Give it a go! Be creative in terms of what you define as a ‘space.’ Don’t restrict yourself to thinking of hot desks or meeting rooms. Think of any space or resource that might be shared.”

Looking to transform the way your organization manages bookable spaces? Sign up for your free Skedda account today.

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