Ever had someone else schedule a last-minute conference call on a Friday afternoon? Had to scramble to find another meeting room because the previous meeting ran over? Got a last minute cancellation without any explanation at all?
You could have the very best meeting rooms in the whole world, equipped with the most cutting edge conferencing technology, and a workforce that is eager to participate in onsite collaboration. But without good meeting room etiquette, just one negative experience could derail all of those benefits.
And for organizations with a distributed workforce, effective collaboration will take some extra effort.
There are so many reasons to look forward to working together in person again.
Beyond feeling a sense of community, there's something about an effective meeting that just generates excitement. After a really great meeting, there's a sense of energy that permeates the room. When creativity flows more freely, it's especially helpful for fast-moving projects. As ideas are shared and build off each other, teams become even stronger through the power of collaboration.
Communication is more engaging in person, and we tend to like people more when we see them frequently. Working together in a shared place allows individuals to be more present and feel that they're being represented more fairly. And many employees find that it's easier to focus during face-to-face conversations.
Excitement for in-person meetings is at an all time high, so you might not be very concerned about poor meeting room etiquette at the moment. Besides, pre-pandemic meetings were already plagued by all sorts of challenges.
However, with all of the perks and convenience of joining a conference call from home, it's changing what people expect from the office.
We've talked about bad meeting behavior before. If your company has experienced any of these, it may be a good indication that it's time to improve your meeting room booking etiquette:
“Once you’ve been kicked in the teeth by someone early on in a working relationship, it’s very hard to establish a positive atmosphere for collaboration.” - James Cartwright
If you don't give people a workplace experience worth coming in for, you'll have a difficult time getting anyone interested in being onsite. As writer and editor James Cartwright said in an article for WePresent, “Once you’ve been kicked in the teeth by someone early on in a working relationship, it’s very hard to establish a positive atmosphere for collaboration.”
In May of 2020, 54% of workers were full-time remote. Now, that number has been slashed in half. According to Gallup, only 25% of workers were still fully remote by September of 2021. Now that meetings are being merged into half remote attendance and half in-person, it’s creating a few obstacles to bridge them.
Meeting organizers need to have an idea of where people are working, but so do colleagues, and it helps if there’s a simple way to get that information without having to track down five different sources or go person-to-person asking where people will be working that day.
Certain experiences will be different for remote attendees — but there are ways to level the playing field. Making sure there’s good conference room technology — with a big enough screen and a wide-angle camera can be helpful for creating a sense of togetherness. Considering how frequently the phrase “you’re on mute” has been used over the past two years, don’t forget that your remote attendees may have some of those same issues pop up. Be patient.
Another thing to keep in mind: It may be more difficult for them to get their thoughts out and contribute to the conversation if onsite attendees don’t remember to keep them involved.
Sometimes, rescheduling meetings can create a mess. There’s a sort of domino effect if there's a time slot that works for some and not for others. If the original room isn’t available, you either have to find a second option that accommodates everyone or reschedule to another day. But who’s going to be in the office that day?
The best solution for this scheduling nightmare? Room scheduling software that integrates with your company’s calendar or scheduling software. Because information syncs between systems, there’s no need to deal with manually updating the room reservation and calendar event separately. That makes it easier to manage, schedule— and yes — reschedule your meetings.
Remember when you only had three meetings a day? That was the average before the pandemic. Based on anonymized, aggregated calendar data from more than 15,000 professionals, calendar app Reclaim.ai reported that the average had risen to five meetings per day by October of 2021.
That bears repeating. Five scheduled meetings per day.
During this "period of forced remote work," as author of A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in An Age of Communication Overload, Cal Newport discussed during an interview with NPR, "the hyperactive hive mind became more hyperactive — more emails, more impromptu Zoom, more Slack messages, much less time to actually work."
"More emails, more impromptu Zoom, more Slack messages, much less time to actually work." - Cal Newport
What’s even more baffling is how much of our time meetings are gobbling up. Pre-pandemic, we spent 14.2 hours per week in meetings. And today? Today that’s at 21.5 hours. If your workweek is 40 hours, that’s more than 50% of your time.
And it's mentally demanding. Depending on the commitment and effort needed for your other tasks, too many meetings can quickly take employees into burnout mode.
As we said earlier, your remote and hybrid workers may be eager for a change of pace. Whether they're looking for a different environment to work in, or just need some good old fashioned in-person social interaction, conference rooms will be in high demand.
Nobody likes having to knock on the door when another meeting runs late. But with so many people eager to participate in person, it's really important for meeting attendees to respect the schedule and not allow their time to run over if someone else is waiting on the room.
Thankfully, when you have a meeting room booking system, it only takes a few seconds for someone to click into the room reservation and check if their room is available for additional time. Then it's easy to adjust their meeting and notify the attendees about the slight change in schedule.
Meeting room etiquette can have an enormous impact on the productivity of a meeting, the social interactions between coworkers, and the employee experience. By balancing the focus between knowing where to meet and how to work together, a meeting room booking tool helps set your workforce up for a better workplace experience.
Meeting room booking tools help drive productivity in the office. Take Teem’s room booking software that employees can use to reserve rooms from their desktop, phone, room displays, their company calendar, and even centrally located kiosks. Wherever an employee is when they need to find and book their meeting room, it’s simple and hassle-free.