Group Scheduling Software: Resources Used Unexpectedly in Some Cultures. Group calendaring and scheduling software -- such as that provided by Exchange or Domino -- is a popular way to quickly achieve consensus about when a meeting should be held. A user booking a meeting can easily see at what time the meeting attendees are available and can request that they attend, perhaps automatically adding the meeting to their calendars.

Often, users also treat "resources" -- such as meeting rooms -- as if they were attendees at the meeting. This adds the meeting to the room's calendar, thus automatically booking the meeting room at the required time. Western software designers also envisioned users adding other types of bookable resources, such as pool cars, mobile AV equipment, etc.

However, some users are using group scheduling software to automate some unexpected local business customs. In Japan, for example, it's customary for tea and coffee to be served during business meetings. Some observers say that the cultural ritual around tea and coffee drinking is just as important as the exchange of meishi (business cards). Accordingly, some sites have set up their resource directory to allow users to book tea and coffee, complete with a uniformed attendant (invariably female). ... Richi Jennings, with thanks to Microsoft's Michael Khalili