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Space Management – what it is and how it fits in the future of work

As the pandemic is receding and the number of employees coming to the offices is picking up, you can expect a lot more demand for meeting rooms. With hybrid work, many employees are coming to the office to collaborate with colleagues and take meetings in person instead of on Zoom. However, people will still have a lot of calls throughout the day which oftentimes requires a meeting or quiet space. The meeting spaces that were empty through the majority of the pandemic are now in high demand and becoming the workplace’s hottest resource. Read below our meeting room management ideas to improve your workplace.

Before we dive into it, it’s worth noting that the two main goals to improve your meeting room management processes are increased utilization and improved employee workplace experience. We all have bad memories of taking laps around the office trying to find meeting space or any space where we can take our zoom call. That’s one of the most stressful experiences in the office. Let’s dig into how to reduce these frustrations and increase space utilization for good.

1 – Provide as many phone booths as you can

First and foremost, it’s worth mentioning that the world has actually changed. It’s unlikely to see everyone in the office 100% of the time soon. Hybrid work means having a lot more online calls even if we go to the office often. Whether that’s a quick sync up, daily meeting, customer call, or a hybrid meeting where some of the people are remote. One thing is certain, you don’t want to end up in a situation where people book conference rooms just to jump on a Zoom call. The best solution is to offer as many phone booths where employees can jump on a quick call. Usually, it’s best to keep them ad-hoc instead of requiring a reservation.

2 – Offer more semi-private seating in your office

A great alternative to fully enclosed and soundproof phone booths can be semi-private seating spaces. Most of the time, people don’t need full privacy for their daily meetings. Just some space where they have enough privacy to talk freely is just good enough. A great option is to spread around your offices’ semi-private seating spaces. These can also add color and make your office looks so much fresher and cooler.

3 – Have a phone booth fair use policy

The modern phone booths or semi-private spaces are great to do focused work too. In order to prevent people from spending hours in a booth, you should provide clear guidelines. A very popular fair use policy is to allow maximum use of 30mins up to an hour. This will ensure a high turnover and a lot more people being able to jump on a quick call.

In our experience phone booths demonstrated dramatic improvement in the employee workplace experience. Also, both phone booths and semi-private seating spaces will reduce the use of meeting rooms for ad-hoc quick calls.

4 – Create a purpose for your meeting rooms

Up until recently, we have been creating meeting room spaces based on a number of employees and other design considerations. There was no particular purpose. However, as we relook meeting room infrastructure in a hybrid workplace, the aim is to create layouts that support specific activities and have a defined capacity.

Purpose-specific meeting rooms are easy to manage, as you know, their usage. If two people books a conference room for a one-on-one meeting that a 10-member marketing team could use, it is a waste of space. Imagine instead of that, when booking a conference room, Joe gets to choose from different options that are well defined and purposeful. Chances are, he will pick the more optimal option.

5 – Make your meeting spaces ready for hybrid work

It’s important to make sure that the meeting room amenities are well aligned with its purpose. For example, meeting spaces that are for hybrid meetings must have proper conference room systems installed that are easy to use. A good option is Zoom Rooms but there are many other more affordable systems. The important part is to have one that is easy to connect to. Usually, the worst experience is when people are joining the online call from the same room and there’s no system. They either have to crowd around one laptop or mute/unmute which is very painful.

6 – Classify your meeting rooms properly

After creating a purpose for your meeting spaces and adding the right amenities, it’s very important to organize and classify the data accurately. Some of the more important attributes of a meeting room are – purpose, layout, size in sq. ft. (sq. m.) as well as, the number of people, has a TV or not, has a conference call system or not, easy access, etc. Make sure you are very specific and accurate which will help people choose the right room for their meeting or activity.

7 – Name your meeting rooms consistently

As people are either returning to the office after a very long break or they’ve never been to it, you may improve their experience by naming the rooms very clearly and consistently. A good option is to encode the building name, the floor number, as well as its purpose into the room name. This will ensure easier navigation and clarity. You can still be creative and name them after something memorable or distinctive about each room (like a painting that you put in there). You can be playful, fun, and consistent at the same time.

8 – Install meeting room displays

After you set a purpose, put a cool name, and classified all the amenities that are available in each conference room, next thing is to install great-looking meeting room displays at each door. Having meeting room schedule displays provide endless benefits to employees. They will be able to easily see all the details about the room, check the availability, quickly make a booking, check-in for a booking, or extend their current one. The meeting room displays offer endless opportunities to digitalize your workplace, improve room utilization and improve the employee experience.

9 – Label your meeting rooms clearly

While meeting room displays help with showing the schedule of the room, nothing beats clearly labeled signage outside your space. Whether it’s numbers or the room’s name, clearly labeled meeting rooms and signage make it easy for attendees to find the physical space, especially those who do not often come into the office.

10 – Revisit and improve room lighting

Good and thoughtful office lighting is one of the most important elements of great workplaces. Although that’s a very complex topic and there’re great professionals that can help you set up the proper lighting, you can still improve them significantly yourself. One option to consider is adding more supporting lights that are suitable for different types of work. Or you can introduce smart dimming so that people can adjust the intensity of the lights. There are so many different types of work that a meeting room can accommodate. By providing more lighting options you can support different use-cases and improve the experience for your employees.

11 – Soundproof your meeting spaces

As we talked about, the way we use meeting spaces is changing quite a lot lately. We see more and more meeting spaces being used for podcasts, webinars, or video recordings. Or even just hopping on an important call, the quality of sound is extremely important. By soundproofing your meeting spaces properly, you can significantly improve the outcomes and overall experience of your teams. Thus, stimulate more people to come to the office so they record this super important video they are working on. A few options to consider are soundproofing the floors, the walls, or the ceilings.

12 – Require attendees to check-in

Workplace experience apps have come a long way, and room booking software now offers advanced features such as meeting room check-in and auto cancellation. You can set up a policy that if no one checks in like 5-10-15mins, the room can be freed automatically. Such features can dramatically reduce the number of ‘ghost bookings’ thus improving the actual meeting room utilization. The more advanced systems allow for checking in many different ways – from auto check-in using the access control, through check-in at the tablet, via email confirmation, or using an easy-to-use mobile app.

13 – Integrate a strict(er) booking policy

Other than required check-ins, you may want to integrate a lot more policies and guidelines in order to streamline the meeting room management processes. For example, you may consider things like:

  • Can people do recurring bookings? Maybe for some rooms, like their daily scrum.
  • How much in advance do people have to book rooms, by type or purpose? Maybe you don’t want to allow your top conference rooms to be booked last minute.
  • Do you have conference rooms that might require approval by an office admin?
  • Do you want to prevent back-to-back bookings? Maybe, you may want to incorporate a stricter policy around cleaning so that using such a policy can ensure you have enough time between bookings to properly disinfect and clean the room.

There are many other options that the more advanced conference room scheduling systems will allow you to set up.

14 – Train employees on conference room best practices and etiquette

Although it might sound a little off, employees play a key role in the overall meeting room management process. Providing a quality training program where you educate people on how to use the rooms can improve everyone’s experience.

For example, starting and ending on time shows respect for everyone’s schedules and ensures there’s enough time to cover the agenda. Keeping the door closed shows respect to people sitting near the meeting room. Noting to people that they should not jump into a space without booking it first. Also, you can use the time to promote boy scouting – always leave the space cleaner and better organized than how you found it – clean up the whiteboard, arrange the chairs, etc.

Make sure employees understand your company’s guidelines related to booking and using conference rooms.

15 – Consider wayfinding options for large offices

It’s no fun walking around the office trying to find where that meeting room is. It’s stressful and frustrating, especially when you’re in a hurry. A great way to improve the workplace experience for people is to adopt a wayfinding system that can help employees navigate indoors.

16 – Make TV sharing easier with dongles or screenshare (Airplay, etc)

Most of us still remember the old days when screen sharing was very stressful due to TV connection issues. Screen sharing is still a challenging task and you can improve the overall workplace experience for everyone if you provide enough sharing options. For example, you can introduce Apple Airplay or Google Chromecast. Whether you offer wireless screen sharing or not, it’s always good to have all connection cables available. Just bundle all dongles together so that any type of device can connect.

17 – Introduce meeting room digital signage

Since most of your meeting rooms will have TVs there sitting idle, you can use the screens to present something important to people. For example, you can rotate how to use the available conference technologies in the room, share important information about the company, big success stories, customer use cases, a friendly joke, or an intro about a new colleague. There’re endless opportunities to use the TVs for good using a meeting room digital signage system.

18 – Offer an easy-to-use booking app

Meeting Room BookingProbably, one of the most important ways to improve, both the employee workplace experience and to increase the utilization of your meeting spaces, is to incorporate a great booking app. The booking experience, although sounds simple, is in fact, quite a complex process because of all the intricacies we just discussed. Our advice when choosing a booking app is to focus your attention on how easy it is for people to make a booking. Is it like a one tap or click type of thing? Keep it simple and your employees will be grateful.

19 – Provide more booking options

Using an app to book a room is usually a great experience, however, not all of us love adding more apps to our phones. When choosing a booking system, you must consider how well integrated it is into your whole technological stack. Does it allow your employees to book directly from Microsoft Teams or Outlook? Google Workspace or Chrome? The more options you can give your employees, the better the chances are to achieve high adoption and better satisfaction.

We’ve discussed already a lot of the modules that oftentimes come with centralized meeting room management software. It’s important to note though that such as system can get all of these well-integrated into a connected system. All the way from managing the resources, amenities, displays, check-ins, policies, bookings, etc. A single unified platform will ensure a great and consistent user experience for your employees.

What’s even more interesting is that such a system will also collect a lot of data that you can put to good use.

21 – Analyze the data and improve your workplace

Just like other workplace technology solutions, conference room booking systems capture data that you can analyze to find patterns in space usage. Are there certain people or teams who often book rooms but don’t show up? Are there certain times of day (3 p.m. or later) or days of the week (Monday or Friday) when no-show meetings are more likely to occur? Access to actionable information is invaluable to understanding meeting room usage patterns, which can help you improve your space in the long run and make sure your employees can make the most of it.

We are never alone when talking about meeting room management and the future of work. Get in touch with us at marketing@officernd.com to add idea number 22. Or spread the word by giving us a share.

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