As offices evolved from cubicles to workplaces based on changing employee needs and activities, so are conversations around the variety and ROI of workplace tech emerging every day.What’s the ROI of conference room scheduling software? It looks different at every company, but it’s the difference between knowing and not knowing how employees are navigating the office which determines how successful a new software will be.
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Here are common challenges with meeting room scheduling today:
- No show and double-booked meetings
- Long meetings, low RSVP rates
- Folks book more meetings than they attend
- No way to match amenities to event type to ensure employees have the ideal meeting room assignment
- Under-used spaces resulting in wasted space
- No insight into how the office is being used and what is and isn’t working for employees
Features of workplace technology and meeting scheduling software
When it comes to the features of vendors in the workplace technology space, and in particular, meeting room booking systems, it’s important to understand each ingredient.
Platforms vs. Digital Signage
There are a few ways to look at the options for room scheduling software:
- Is the option tablet or platform-focused (hardware vs. software)?
- Are tablets the main ingredient of the product or are they a part of a larger platform that helps better manage the workplace?
- Does the feature set align with the goals of your organization? Examples of conference room scheduling software features include: Google and Outlook calendar integrations
- Browser plugins
- Ability to set up room booking & assignment policies
- Issue reporting
- Remote device management
- Ability to remove abandoned meetings and start impromptu meetings
Depending on your use case and the problems you’re looking to solve, you’ll look at a solution from a specific lens. Tablet-focused vendors are great for end users by adding an extra layer of security and visibility into the office schedule. Features like future booking events and the ability to check in and out right from the room displays make for a simple, enjoyable experience.Platforms bring that toolset, along with enhanced admin tools, like catering, device management and real-time analytics reports.
Conference Room Displays
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Datto's Albany office showcases the opportunity to brand meeting room displays like naming rooms after disaster rooms. Via The Business Journals.[/caption]Like lots of tech companies, the room booking ecosystem is filled with either software or hardware-based vendors. And there are pros and cons to each, so let’s take a quick peek under the hood.Proprietary hardware is owned and produced by the vendor, usually complementing the software that they also own and manage. The benefits of this usually surround installation and onboarding, as well as training, and all-in-one type of solution. Powerbx, for example, design and manufacture conference room displays as well as handle the installation process from start to finish. Given that a vendor is responsible for maintenance, this route can be sunk costs if the hardware fails. Proprietary systems also cannot update their systems as quickly as software-based ones, given the nature of going right to the cloud.App-based, or software-only vendors tend to be much more affordable and nimble, as you can choose your own adventure with hardware (Kindle Fires vs. iPads), and maintenance costs are much cheaper. There are also custom theming and onboarding documentation right out of the box along with flexible integrations to work with.With this in mind, the right choice for your company depends on budget and the problem you’re looking to solve as an organization.
Analytics and Room Occupancy
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Understand how your office's meeting rooms are being used with actionable insights.[/caption]We all love data. At the heart of why we purchase the software or hardware that these vendors sell is to better understand the office and how employees use (or ignore) the space provided to them. From meeting length to average meetings per day to what types of conference rooms are scheduled the most, there are invaluable insights and data points to inform future office design and setup.Here are questions vendors can help you answer:
- How long are your average meetings?
- What rooms hold the most meetings? The least? And what amenities are used most?
- Are spaces under or over utilized based on capacity and number of meeting attendees?
- Which conference rooms in my office are most popular? Why are they used more frequently than other rooms?
- What equipment exists in your most popular conference rooms?
- What spaces in the office are underutilized? Which spaces are unnecessary?
- How many ad-hoc meetings occur each week? Would more add-on huddle spaces be appropriate for these meetings?
- How many no-show meetings happen every week? If you had fewer conference rooms could you host the same amount of meetings with fewer no-shows?
- Are spaces and conference rooms being used in ways they weren’t intended to be? How so?
Admin Tools and Customizable Themes
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Customize meeting rooms with details on amenities, permission settings, check-in rules and more.[/caption]Whether you’re an office manager, HR director, IT manager or head of the facilities team, having additional tools to manage, monitor and maximize the system you implement is key, for instance:
- Permission settings (this room can only be booked by certain people) Are there conference rooms meant for specific tasks? Perhaps you have a war room dedicated to your social media and marketing team which only they need access to. Or if your company is hiring like crazy but conference rooms are hard to come by, dedicating several to interviews for that period of time is the best way to ensure there’s a space.
- Device vitals and reporting room issues Are tablets online and accessible? Is the schedule on the TV in a meeting room not syncing properly?
- Customizing the look and feel of the tablet to match the branding/personality of the room or company Software should not only make the office more efficient, but it should also be fun for end users to interact with. Including conference room names, photos specific to that name or room and a company logo goes a long way fostering a strong brand.
- Catering, meeting services and integrations (Slack, BlueJeans, WebEx, etc)
Each vendor has their own set of tools and integrations, so it’s important to understand what the need-to-haves vs. nice-to-haves are in terms of how your company plans to use the system.
Mobile app to support conference room scheduling
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With a mobile app, employees can quickly schedule the right space for the task at hand.[/caption]Introducing new software to your employees isn’t a simple handoff. It takes change management and solid onboarding which includes communicating specific use cases to employees and the benefits of using a new system.For conference room scheduling, mobile apps tend to be an easy selling point for busy employees for a few reasons:
- People don’t need to rely on having a laptop or room display nearby in order to book a room.
- Rather than going into Google or Outlook calendar or signing into the dashboard on a computer, employees can quickly and easily find and book a meeting on-the-go.
- For companies with multiple offices, booking a meeting room in an unfamiliar office is simple. Imagine walking through the airport and realize you forgot to book a room in an office you’ve never been to before. That’s where the mobile app saves the day.
Better Workplace Analytics, More Answers
In a 2017 report conducted by PGi, the leader in web conferencing and collaboration technology, it was noted that more and more companies are moving towards utilizing Ambient Intelligence Technologies, where an environment of devices and networks can anticipate and react to where and how you work.
“From there, users are in an environment of personalized notifications and room recommendations based on the space you’re visiting or the space you’re in — we call them location-based superpowers.”
Organizations invest in room scheduling software for a variety of reasons:
- It solves an immediate problem
- It complements an initiative of streamlining a process
- It’s part of a bigger plan to automate and improve an aspect of the workplace longer term.
Wherever your search falls, it’s important to think about what’s important to you. That’s why we put together this buyer’s guide to workplace technology, to get you started.