We recently published a blog about the new – hybrid – way of working and its impact on workplace management. It therefore comes as no surprise that the use of meeting rooms has also changed as a result of this. When most of us worked from home during the pandemic, meetings took place via Zoom or Teams, and meeting rooms remained empty. Now that we – at least in part – return to the office, it is time to take a critical look at the use of the available space.
For the expectation is that we will not go back to 'the old normal'. Instead, teams will increasingly work from different places and at varying times – i.e. asynchronously. The office is no longer just a workplace, but also a place to meet and catch up. That's what the future looks like. With board rooms that are increasingly used for online meetings or remote ‘coffee machine catch-ups’, one-on-one or in small groups.
Need vs. availability
But office and meeting space is expensive, so it's only natural that more and more C-level managers are wondering whether all of it is still needed. Sometimes employees have trouble finding a suitable meeting room, while the general feeling is that enough space is available. Why is that? Usually, it’s simply a case of availability that does not meet employees’ needs, or at least insufficiently so.
The question is: what is the occupancy rate of the existing meeting rooms? What are they used for? How many people take part in each meeting? Which spaces do employees prefer? How often do meeting rooms get booked but end up not being used?
In other words: how much meeting space is really needed?
These are all relevant questions, each of which has a huge impact, both on employees looking for a place to meet, and on the ever-increasing costs associated with renting office space.
Ghost and zombie meetings
Too often, rooms are reserved for meetings that ultimately do not take place, whatever the reason may be. One-off meetings for which no one shows up, also called ghost meetings. Or perhaps even more annoying: a series of meetings for the same day and time, which are scheduled in advance, and are cancelled several times, the so-called zombie meetings. According to research, zombie meetings on average result in 40% no-shows!
Usually, people simply forget to cancel the booked meeting room. Or rooms are booked months in advance and the person who organized the meeting (series) has left the company. Or the meeting ends up taking place online or in the coffee corner.
Either way, the result is that spaces remain unused while they are blocked, leaving other employees to miss out.
Something else to consider is the size of the meeting rooms. Employees often reserve the space they know, the one that is closest to their workplace or supposedly belongs to their department, or the one that offers certain equipment, for example for video calling. Always the same room, regardless of the number of people participating in the meeting.
Also, rooms are often booked based on the total number of people, including video participants, while the number of physical participants should of course be leading.
The result is that especially large meeting rooms are rarely full, while the need for space is so significant, by no means always for group meetings, but increasingly for spontaneous one-on-one meetings and unplanned conference calls. In this case, wouldn't it be much more efficient to make several smaller meeting spaces available instead of a few large ones?
To measure is to know
But of course, you don't simply redesign office and meeting space based on a gut feeling alone. This requires insight. Insight into the occupancy rate of the various spaces and their use.
Are large rooms structurally booked for a much smaller number of participants? Do meetings often end prematurely, or do they end up not taking place at all? What equipment is used?
Only with these insights can you find out what the need is in terms of numbers, size, and functionality. Only in this way can you determine the correct capacity and will you be able to optimize the use of the various spaces.
Manual measurement is of no use in this exercise. On the one hand, because it is time-consuming and prone to errors, and on the other, because employees simply adjust their behavior – consciously or subconsciously – as soon as they know that they are being monitored. Unfortunately, there is a good chance that they will revert to their old behavior after the measuring period.
The only way to collect reliable data is to equip every room with sensors. A sensor that continuously measures the occupancy rate, and one that counts the number of people in the room thanks to smart technology that detects people’s silhouettes, even when they are sitting still. In addition, a climate sensor measuring CO2 levels, temperature and humidity; values that contribute to a comfortable air quality in which people can work productively.
With iotspot’s meeting room sensors, you will know in no time whether the various rooms are being used efficiently. The dashboards show real-time data, so you can constantly keep track and make decisions based on facts. Decisions that can have a huge impact on increasing productivity and reducing office costs.
Super easy to book from the app or browser
In addition to clever sensors, iotspot's smart workspace platform also offers an app for employees to not only check which meeting space is available, but also book it super easily, from the office or from home. This way they no longer waste time searching for an available space. The app can be integrated with, among others, Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook 365.
When employees arrive at the office, the app guides them to the booked meeting room. LED lighting on each room indicates whether it is available (green), occupied (red) or booked (blue). By scanning an NFC tag, rooms can also be booked on the spot there and then.
Thanks to the no-show functionality in the sensor, meeting rooms that are not occupied at the reserved time are automatically released, so the app always shows real-time information. When a room is booked for a series of recurring meetings of which three in a row are cancelled, the room is released for the rest of the series and a notification is sent to the organizer.
The result? Optimal use of meeting rooms and increased workability for employees!
Collaborate productively and efficiently
The fact is that the work environment will continue to change in the coming years. That is one of the reasons that many companies and organizations are looking for a new way of working. A new office environment that considers the wishes of employees but is also workable – and affordable! –for the organization.
Precisely because the work environment is so changeable, it is important to remain flexible and to avoid making choices that turn out not to work in practice.
Thanks to iotspot's smart workspace technology, you can continuously monitor the use of the various spaces and continue to respond dynamically to the needs of employees. This is the way to stimulate cooperation and to increase the productivity and efficiency of meetings.
Are you curious how our smart workspace platform can make a difference for your organization within a matter of only a few days? Our team is here to help, so feel free to make an appointment for a chat or demo! We are happy to help you on your way.
iotspot is all about the people in the work environment. About trust, transparency, cooperation, and openness. Everything we do is focused on empowering people to decide when, where and with whom they want to work. With the office as the place to meet the team and colleagues.
The iotspot smart workspace platform supports organizations in facilitating this way of working. It creates an attractive working environment and ensures a sustainable future.
In recent years, iotspot has developed into an organization with a motivated team and a valuable partner network. Together we strive to provide the best service, products, and innovations.
When most of us worked from home during the pandemic, meetings took place via Zoom or Teams, and meeting rooms remained empty. Now that we – at least in part – return to the office, it is time to take a critical look at the use of the available space.
Much has been said and written about it: due to the corona pandemic, a large part of the worldwide working population has been working from home these past few years.
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