Meeting and conference rooms are valuable office commodities, and an essential part of how your people collaborate and come together to create and manage an organizational culture.
Your office space is, after all, typically your second-highest business expense, after payroll. A failure to optimize meeting rooms is not just a missed opportunity to drive collaboration and culture, but also like tossing large amounts of your money out the window.
Although about 15% of a typical organization’s collective time is spent on meetings, business executives say that 67% of meetings fail to meet their intended goals, according to the eye-opening infographic, “The Ugly Truth About Meetings.”
In today’s complex hybrid work environments, where some people meet in the office and some dial in remotely, where hybrid meetings are more complex to organize and hold, the ease of booking meeting space and communicating with distributed attendees about booking details is absolutely essential for:
(1) People’s productivity
(2) Effective collaboration/communication
(3) Office utilization (and resource optimization)
(4) Overall employee experience
Clearly, getting your meeting room booking process right is a big deal.
The Costly Chaos of Inefficient Meeting Room Reservation
How much time do your employees take out of their busy week booking meeting rooms and communicating meeting details to attendees, only to walk over to a supposedly booked meeting room and watch another meeting taking place? Yikes! Double-bookings are all too common, infuriating, and surefire productivity killers.
Meeting inefficiencies waste valuable employee (and leadership) time and burn an organization’s money. Career site The Muse estimates that middle managers spend about 35% of their time in meetings, while upper management spend about 50% of their time in meetings. Of the 25 million meetings held each day in the US, about a third of them are considered unproductive, according to “The Ugly Truth About Meetings,” which also says that a staggering $37 billiion is wasted on unproductive meetings in the US each year. Yes, billion with a “b.”
So making it easy to find and reserve a meeting room with just a few clicks supports your employees by preventing frustration, wastage of people’s limited time and the organization’s money, as well as halting internal squabbles over who “controls” what meeting space (the type of squabbles that raise everyone’s blood pressure)..
What’s a Meeting Room Booking System, Anyway?
A meeting room booking system, also known as conference room scheduling software, allows employees to digitally search for, find, and reserve meeting space that addresses their particular meeting needs (and those of attendees).
It increases meeting room efficiency/utilization, reduces people’s confusion and time wasted during the conference room booking process, and facilitates employee collaboration/teamwork because the right meeting room can be found at the right time and with the right resources for the needs of attendees.
Any meeting room booking systems worthy of the name will offer users the ability to:
- Book meeting rooms in a quick, streamlined way.
- Browse through an always-updated menu of available meeting rooms.
- View individual meeting room features, so the right room can be booked for each meeting, depending on attendee requirements/needs.
- Easily communicate meeting details to relevant people via software integrations with Gmail, calendars, Slack, and other popular communication platforms your people use.
7 Massive Benefits of Meeting Room Booking Systems
Effective, efficient meeting room booking systems drive value by solving several major problems around booking meeting space. Let’s explore some of those value-adding solutions in-depth:
1. Simplify the Process for Booking Meeting Spaces
An inefficient or non-existent meeting room booking process (outdated spreadsheets, anyone?) is a massive time-drain and a source of daily frustration. According to office furniture supplier Steelcase, 40% of employees waste up to 30 minutes per day looking for meeting space. That’s 10 wasted hours per month, multiplied by the total number of your (very frustrated) employees!
2. Save Your Organization Money
An inefficient meeting room booking process is so costly because it triggers a frustratingly high volume of communication in an often-futile effort to “keep everyone on the same page” about (shifting) meeting details. It can cost $1,800 in excess email communication and somewhere between $2,100 and $4,100 in poor communication per employee annually, not to mention being lethal to employee experience.
All of this meeting room chaos and trying to reduce it through voluminous communication (“I’m not sure if Chris got my last email about the changed meeting time”) sends money straight down the drain and diminishes employee experience.
3. Prevent the Scourge of Double-Bookings
Meeting room booking systems eliminate confusion around who has booked what space and when, thus making double bookings a relic of the past. The whole booking process becomes transparent so everyone and anyone can see precisely who’s booked the room, for what time, and for what event. When updates/changes happen, the relevant people are automatically notified.
No more toxic, “Game of Thrones” battles with colleagues and other teams over meeting room availability and access. All attendees are informed in advance about room bookings, and the transparency of the booking system eliminates the possibility of misunderstandings, double bookings, and delays.
4. Enable Better Collaboration
Getting meeting room bookings right, and giving your entire organization confidence in the efficiency and transparency of your booking system, is a must-have foundation for better, more consistent collaboration and teamwork. What happens after a couple of double-booking snafus occur in a month? People lose confidence in how their meetings are organized and held – people start expecting the worst.
Whether you’re the team waiting outside the double-booked meeting room and (maybe) scowling at the team occupying “your” room, or you’re the team inside the meeting room being scowled at by another team (“why can’t they just chill out and go away!”), everyone involved feels uncomfortable and lacks confidence and support in the existing meeting room booking system. That’s an organization culture and collaboration killer.
5. Streamline the Booking Process
To optimize the utilization of your various meeting rooms, your organization should put clear rules of the road in place that standardize how much time people and groups can spend in each conference/meeting room and how many people can utilize the space at once (depending on the room’s size and its purpose, of course). Having a clear and streamlined policy in place stops the scourge of double bookings (see benefit #2 above) and other nasty scheduling conflicts that typically occur whenever “shared rules of the road” for reserving meeting space are lacking.
6. Integrate Your Room Reservation System
In today’s hybrid workplace, connection is king (or queen). Your organization should fully integrate your meeting room booking system into the other communication/collaboration platforms commonly used by your people, such as calendars, email, and Slack/MS Teams. Such integrations allow you to immediately notify and update attendees about meeting room details, so nobody is caught by surprise when changes get made.
7. Provide Visibility into Resources for Teams and Workplace Leaders
With an efficient meeting room booking system, anyone can view a roster of rooms that are available for potential use and plan accordingly.
When it comes to workplace leaders and how they develop their organization’s workplace strategy, meeting room booking systems provide invaluable workplace analytics around space utilization that can inform ongoing decision-making.
Tracking space utilization data via spreadsheets, or having no data at all, is simply a waste of expensive resources (including people’s limited time) and a massive lost opportunity to see how your workplace strategy is performing in real-time. When you know exactly what meeting/conference rooms are being used and when, you can plan and iterate your workplace strategy and your real estate footprint accordingly.
How to Find the Right Meeting Room Scheduling Software
Workplace leaders should begin by auditing where you are now with your current meeting room booking system. Are you seeing double-bookings and heated conflicts among your teams about who gets what meeting space and when? Do you have real-time visibility and analytics into what’s happening with your conference room space utilization? If you’re deploying spreadsheets to both manage and track bookings, you simply cannot have actionable visibility.
Ask some key questions about your current meeting room booking system and processes. Does the meeting room schedule synchronize with email and personal calendar programs, so people can immediately access meeting information via popular channels? Having a room booking system that syncs with your other workplace technologies, and does so seamlessly, is a must-have if you want to avoid meeting mishaps.
Additionally, each meeting room should have a display screen outside it that’s fully integrated with your room booking system, showing a calendar of who reserved the room and when.
Your room booking system should also work across multiple devices, allowing employees to reserve a room from the scheduling screen, but also from their own desks, computers and mobile devices. Remember, not everyone is in the office or using in-office devices (BYOD, anyone?). You’ll need communication to happen across multiple platforms and devices.
Your meeting room booking system must also be easy to use, of course, creating a seamless and frictionless user experience. It should enable employees:
- To easily check into the room in order to begin the meeting,
- To end the meeting early if need be to free up bookable space for others to utilize, and
- To change/update meeting details from multiple devices so attendees are always “on the same page” regarding meeting details.
Last but far from least, workplace analytics around room usage should be available to inform decisions about your workplace strategy and your decision-making about office space. If certain meeting rooms are underutilized, for example, you might decide to convert that unused space into a resource space. If rooms are overbooked and subject to heated competition for bookings, you might want to convert some of your open spaces into bookable meeting rooms. This data helps you make more informed decisions about space usage.
Better Meeting Room Management Starts Here
Improving your meeting room booking system and processes isn’t just about bringing in the right software customized for your organization’s needs, but it’s also about finding a workplace technology partner with experience and know-how gained from working with organizations like yours.
You want a partner who’s seen all the problems and helped solve them for many organizations over time, a trusted advisor with a consultative approach that’s about listening first and serving your needs second, not about selling you stuff you may not need.
Robin is here to help you set up and maintain a meeting room booking system that works best for you. You can get started with Robin for free!