Scheduling conference rooms is a major pain. Let’s say you want to take a quick, private call without sharing your conversation with the peanut gallery in your open floor plan. You need to check the calendar and reserve a conference room or go rogue and slip into a vacant room hoping that you won’t get kicked out.
Isn’t there a better way? There is, and we’ve got a couple clever hacks to help you solve the conference room space scheduling problem once and for all. But before diving into the solutions we found it’s important to first identify the problem with many companies’ conference room space scheduling.
Conference room woes start with having too few ad-hoc spaces
While many people think that the conference room space gridlock issue is in scheduling, the majority of issues are in the type of spaces your office offers.
The first problem is a lack of ad-hoc meeting spaces. Often times employees need to meet briefly to discuss something and the only place in an office to do that is the conference room. Without access to ad-hoc meeting spaces, conference rooms get clogged up with one-on-ones or other meetings that could just as easily be done at a coffee table.
The second problem is a lack of places to make a phone call. In today’s open floor plans it can be hard to hear someone on the other end of a phone conversation so sales reps and executives book an entire conference room to make a phone call.
The third problem is the mess that is conference room scheduling. And outdated enterprise technology (cough Microsoft Exchange cough) only adds to the problem. Without the right tools, conference room scheduling can be a recipe for disaster and confusion.
Create unscheduled meeting space
The best way to relieve pressure on conference rooms is creating private ad hoc spaces for brief impromptu meetings. Whether it’s a small coffee table with a few chairs or a lunch table and four stools, providing easily accessible unscheduled meeting space is one of the quickest, most cost-effective ways to solve the problem of conference room scheduling.
A common use case for conference rooms is small group huddles. Examples include a sales manager meeting with a new rep to discuss training and progress or designers meeting with engineers to talk about feature implementation. The reality is that these meetings can be done in public ad-hoc meeting spaces.
When we first set out to write this article the plan was to find hardware and software that solved the conference room space scheduling problem. But after talking to a few people we realized that implementing new technology isn’t necessarily the first place to start. For some companies the best fix is a quick trip to IKEA.
Ok, so maybe we can’t all afford ad-hoc space as cool as Pandora’s but you get the idea!
Install phone booths
Putting phone booths in your office is the second best way to cut down on conference room scheduling conflicts. One of the biggest power users of conference rooms in a company is typically the sales team. With cubicle and open floor plan layouts reps often look for the quietest place to call customers. Unfortunately for the rest of the team that space is the conference room.
By including these booths in your office you can limit the number of times an employee books a room to themselves. And let’s be honest, they look pretty awesome!
Note: these spaces don’t have to literally be phonebooths. They simply have to provide a quiet and private space to talk on the phone or speak via video conference.
Implement an effective scheduling system
The third solution for the conference room scheduling problem is implementing one of the many innovative scheduling systems and devices on the market that aim to solve this exact problem. Depending on your company’s size and budget, cloud apps, tablets or a combination of both could fixed all of your conference room ailments
Eventboard built a sleek app for the iPad that does one thing and one thing only: conference room scheduling. With a Nest-like feel to the design, training employees shouldn’t be an issue like it is with other incumbents in the space.
There are plenty of iPad apps, like Eventboard, on the market that aim to solve the issue of conference room scheduling.
If you don’t have $700 to spend on an iPad then one of the simplest solutions to the conference room availability issue is installing a busy/free sign indicating whether or not someone is using the room. While this solution doesn’t limit usage of conference rooms or add space to your office, it is a great way to limit call interruptions and confusion.
Between IKEA furniture and iPad scheduling systems, there are plenty of ways to solve the conference room space availability issue. However, the most important step you can take to relieve stress on conference rooms is offering employees more spaces to meet. Second after that is creating quiet spaces ideal for making a phone call. Once you relieve stress on one of your office’s most scarce resources then there are plenty of apps and technology solutions to the scheduling problem.
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