With many employees now working remotely, they’ve become accustomed to the simplicity of scheduling meetings online. When your workforce comes into the office to collaborate in person, they expect conference room booking to be just as easy.
So why isn’t it?
Here are seven common obstacles that make conference room booking harder than it should be in your workplace—and how to overcome them.
You’re about to start a meeting with an important prospect. You’ve spent days polishing the sales deck until it shines. You’ve ordered a catered lunch. You’ve even added some plants and a bowl of fresh fruit to make the room feel more inviting.
Just as everyone is getting settled, you’re interrupted by a colleague who insists she reserved the same conference room for her clients.
It’s embarrassing, but unfortunately an all-too-common occurrence if your workplace uses email calendar tools as your primary method of booking conference rooms.
Some calendar apps allow rooms to be double-booked, creating confusion and conflict. Calendar apps alone lack visibility across your workplace. Employees who need to reserve a room for a quick, impromptu meeting have to log back into their email to see which rooms are available—then book a room down the hall and hope someone else hasn’t taken it first.
How many recurring meetings do you have on your calendar right now? How many are associated with a recurring room reservation?
And how often have you cancelled a recurring meeting five minutes before it started because you already covered everything you needed to discuss? How many times have you hosted that meeting online instead because you and your colleagues were working remotely?
We’re incredibly lucky to have so many different ways to collaborate with our colleagues, even when we’re not under the same roof.
The problem with room reservations associated with cancelled meetings is that those rooms still appear to be booked to anyone who is working in the office that day.
These “zombie” conference room bookings create a sense of false scarcity, making it more difficult for others to find and reserve available rooms. Meanwhile, these unused rooms sit empty—amounting to wasted space in your workplace.
With room scheduling software that requires employees to check in, you can eliminate zombie meetings. You can set the software to cancel reservations after a certain period of time (say, 15 minutes) so the room will be free again if no one checks in for the meeting. This serves as a built-in reminder for employees to be on time or risk losing their meeting room.
Another option is to use sensor integrations with your room booking software. You can place occupancy sensors outside each meeting space and set up a workflow that will trigger room reservations to be cancelled if the sensors don’t detect any activity after a certain period of time.
It’s almost 2 p.m., and you’re anxious to set up for your meeting in the conference room you reserved. But your coworkers are deep in discussion, with no sign of wrapping up soon.
You don’t want to be an annoying interrupter, but you also don’t want to be late to start your own meeting. If long-running meetings are frustrating for you, you can bet they’re frustrating for the rest of your workforce.
There’s a better alternative to barging in—conference room scheduling displays that show who has reserved the room and for how long.
Showing up to the wrong meeting is a lot like showing up to the wrong college class—and for new employees, it’s especially embarrassing.
But when you have a lot of conference rooms with similar names, it happens more often than you might think.
In fact, a 2017 Office Worker Survey by sensor technology company Senion found that two in five employees spend up to an hour each week just looking for available desks, conference rooms and colleagues.
That adds up to one day per year for each of the 160 million employees working at companies with 500 or more people—a whopping 160 million wasted days, and $27.5 billion in lost productivity.
Software that makes it easier to find rooms and people can eliminate much of this wasted time and money.
There’s nothing wrong with having a favorite conference room. But if one person or department is always reserving preferred rooms and no one else can use them, it can cause conflict.
Instead of blaming your employees, ask why those rooms are considered prime real estate in your office.
Most likely, it’s because of location, room size or conference room equipment. If you only have a few rooms with high-quality monitors and conference room phone systems, consider upgrading the others. Giving employees an easy way to submit service requests for technology that isn’t working properly can also help alleviate this problem.
When employees are working remotely, navigating back-to-back meetings is a two-step process—exit one virtual meeting, and click the link to join the next one. When employees have back-to-back meetings in the workplace, they expect it to be just as simple. They don’t have time to figure out how to connect their laptop to a different monitor that isn’t compatible, adjust their webcam or test their audio.
If it takes more than a few minutes, they’ll find a work-around that’s less than ideal—like gathering together around someone’s desk and disrupting their colleagues in the process.
How many steps does it take to book a meeting room in your office?
Do employees have to request reservations through your IT department or an administrator? How do they receive confirmation that the room is reserved?
If you already have a conference room booking system in place, do you use the same system for all your offices? Or does every workplace have a different system they’ve implemented over the years?
How easy is it for employees to use your room booking software?
Can they use room scheduling panels that allow them to tap and reserve rooms as they’re walking by?
Can they book rooms from a mobile app, even when they’re away from the office?
If not, it’s time to consider a new, more user-friendly room booking system.
Conference room booking software unifies your workforce, making it easy for anyone to find and reserve available rooms.
Teem’s cloud-based room booking software integrates with the calendar systems your workplace already uses, whether that’s Office 365, Outlook or Google Calendar.
Using their calendar, employees can search for available rooms by location, capacity and amenities so they can find the one that will best support the work they’re doing that day.
The software is accessible via desktops, mobile devices or room displays, enabling anyone to find and book a room anywhere.
If a conference room has missing or broken equipment, employees can easily submit a work request to fix it right from their device or display.
Teem’s room booking software includes a check-in feature, which eliminates “zombie” meetings by canceling a reservation if no one has checked in after a designated time period. The software also integrates with sensors, which trigger a cancellation if no activity is detected in the room after a period of time.
Teem’s technology goes beyond conference room booking, enabling employees to reserve desks or huddle areas in an agile work environment. It’s easy to manage, so you can focus on your most pressing tasks without being the meeting room referee.
Empowering your workforce to easily find and reserve meeting space sets the stage for greater collaboration and productivity. When booking a meeting room is as easy as setting up a virtual meeting, employees will get together more often.
They can have more frequent, spontaneous discussions instead of longer, recurring meetings that may be less productive. And they can have those conversations in an environment that’s more conducive to the tasks they need to accomplish. Meeting in person builds a unique rapport that can take more time to develop when teams are collaborating remotely.
There’s something about brainstorming on a whiteboard or having casual conversations over lunch that’s harder to replicate on a video call. Your employees may not come into the office every day, but when they do, they’re there because they value a workplace experience they can’t get while working from home. They’re craving a certain kind of connection with their colleagues.
At the same time, they expect the meetings they have in person to be just as easy to set up as a video call. And with the right conference room booking software, they will be.