When conference space is limited but meetings are integral to your business operations, it can create a frustrating situation. At some companies, it’s gotten so bad that employees are huddling around rooms with meetings in session to signal “wrap it up.” They’re even diving into spaces that appear empty, without regard to others who followed proper meeting room booking protocols to reserve the space.
All of this behavior leads to an awkward, tense work culture, where productivity is the biggest victim. So how can small business leaders like you keep the peace while still facilitating this form of collaboration? For starters, instead of fixating on the shortcomings of your physical office, consider whether these ideas need to be shared in a boardroom at all.
How Employers Can Prevent Meeting Room Conflicts
Years ago, meeting room booking was done by the office secretary on behalf of upper management. Now that employees schedule their own conferences, some are being caught in a loop of recurring meetings, with spaces being booked weeks and weeks in advance. Nearly everyone has a calendar full of meeting requests, which puts an added strain on already scarce conference spaces. Luckily, there are several ways you can handle this demand and better manage meeting room booking.
1. Choose Alternatives to Meetings
Getting caught up in the meeting craze is actually counterproductive. Today, technological tools support collaboration without the need for meeting in person. Consider how project management platforms with messaging capabilities, such as JIRA and Slack, can be used for status updates. Encourage the use of telephone conferencing for daily briefings. And instead of making formal meetings an expectation, allow employees to meet for lunch to go over a project.
2. Use Digital Meeting Signs
Not knowing who has reserved a room or for how long is a common frustration amongst corporate employees. To solve this problem, digital meeting room signs could be hung outside each reservable room. The sign should display information such as who has reserved the room, the time it’s reserved for, and contact information for the persons using it. This way, if the reservees don’t show up in a few minutes, other employees needing the space know whom to call to request use of the room.
3. Set Up a Room Scheduling Calendar
It’s simple to create a meeting room scheduling calendar using Microsoft Outlook or Office 365. Set up a resource mailbox for booking meeting spaces that’s connected to a shared calendar. Employees can view it to request the meeting room of their choice and send an email to the calendar to book it in advance.
4. Install Meeting Booths in the Office
Not all meetings require the use of large conference rooms. Micro-office spaces, which provide space for up to two employees to conduct meetings, are growing in popularity. Also referred to as phone booth cubicles, these are ideal for employees using virtual meeting technology and telephone conferencing, or who just need temporary soundproof space. These tiny spaces can significantly reduce standard meeting room congestion.
5. Create a Written Meeting Room Policy
It’s worthwhile to remind employees about the privilege of using corporate meeting rooms. Consider creating a written policy about meeting room booking, which can include instructions for reserving space, general meeting room etiquette and handling conflicts over meeting spaces. You may also want to include alternatives for employees who are unable to secure a meeting room, such as the option to work remotely. Include this policy in the employee handbook.
Meeting room woes may feel like par for the course—but that doesn’t have to be the case. By encouraging the use of tech solutions and laying down some ground rules, you can ensure that your physical office space is being used as efficiently as possible.
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