Setting up and attending meetings is a common activity in most organisations. With the rise in collaborations due to geographically separated offices, work-from-home policies and frequent agile team gatherings, meeting management and room utilisation is critical to the successful collaboration and communication between team members.
While the number of meetings are increasing, their management is becoming and more and more complicated and confusing. A lot of frustration results from not being able to get rooms when you need them. Improperly managed meeting room scheduling can lead to frustrations, bad blood, loss of productivity and animosity between teams. It is important to understand and address these problems before the corporate culture gets soured by these seemingly trivial issues. Here are some common problems that we have encountered from working with clients:
1. Reserving Multiple Room For Same Meeting
We see this happening in large organisations where a tentative senior management meeting is to take place in six months. So, the receptionist fires up her calendar and reserves 3 or 4 rooms with the necessary seating capacity for that meeting. When they finally settle on a meeting room, the other rooms that were reserved are completely forgotten about. These remain booked, preventing others from being able to use them.
ecobook provides regular reminders to those people who have booked rooms well in advance. These are separate from the normal meeting reminders in that they require the users to confirm the rooms by triggering an action from the email. If no action is taken, then the room is automatically released. This helps organisers to remember that they have booked multiple rooms and can free up those that are no longer required.
2. Forgetting To Cancel Meetings That Do Not Happen
This happens in all types of organisations. A Meeting is booked and gets cancelled last minute or even after the meeting has tentatively started. In this case, the organiser may find it too tedious or cumbersome to go and cancel the booking in their calendars.
With ecobook, administrators can set timeouts for bookings which enable auto cancellation if a meeting is not explicitly started. With auto cancel feature the worst is a loss of, say 15 minutes compared to the whole duration of the meeting. This frees up the room for others to book. Explicit commencement of meeting can be done by anyone who is a participant in the meeting and can be done through the web or through the room display panel.
3. Hogging Meeting Room By Extended Bookings
Again, this happens in large organisations where politics is part of the culture. Meeting rooms that are in certain floors seem to be always booked. This is because the people in that floor want to use the meeting room for their own purposes and do not welcome staff from other floors to use them. This results in them booking the meeting room for the entire year.
ecobook provides ways to limit such actions through windows for advanced booking and maximum duration allowed. Cross departmental charging can be put in place where funds are allocated by credits and usage is limited to those credits. Workflow approvals also provides a layer of oversight on the usage. A combination of quota systems, funds or credits and approval workflows provide a consistent level of usage across the organisation, preventing people or departments from owning the rooms in their respective floors.
4. Occupying rooms without booking
This happens more frequently than normal. An empty meeting room is occupied for a meeting without any reservations. Things get complicated when senior management are in the meeting, making it harder to ask them to leave. In these cases, a true reflection of usage is hard to estimate when staff do not follow the necessary rules. While nothing can be done about this situation, even from a system perspective, it will be good to have some policies in place to educate the staff on usage. In most cases, using these rooms without booking is due to the laziness of the attendees to go back to their system to check the availability.
ecobook provides a combination of a digital wallboard that shows the room status while also providing a room display panel that can help to simplify the booking of the room. This can help staff do a quick look up and reserve the room on the spot. ecobook can also be integrated with existing air-conditioning and lighting systems so that they automatically switch off after the scheduled meeting times. This encourages the user to go into the system and extend the meeting.
5. Favoritism/Discretion To Specific Groups Of People
This happens where there is politics in the organisation and there is an unspoken understanding between teams to scratch each other's back or to protect their turf. Specific teams or individuals are allowed to request for rooms while others are clearly denied requests. Meeting requests from unwelcome members are put on hold while some requests are easily accepted. These happen primarily because there is a clear lack of rules and policies on usage and top management turns a blind eye to the problems at hand. Without a formal policy in place, discretion is left to the people who think they own the rooms. This is one of the biggest frustrations that results in bad blood across the organisation.
Implementing ecobook puts in place rules that can govern the usage of the rooms and thereby eliminate the need for discretionary decision making. Policies can be put in place for usage, approval request procedures, turn-around times and quotas that can significantly improve room usage while increasing the productivity and confidence of the people who use the system.
6. Putting Receptionist In Charge Of Room Reservation
The receptionist is the gate keeper of all the rooms. This occurs in medium and small sized organisations or within departments in large organisations. The receptionist is put in charge of scheduling the meetings and assigning rooms using a common calendar. While this is still possible, her absence or a replacement can throw the whole scheduling process into a mess. Since the whole process is dependant on a single person who is in charge of all the rooms, the receptionist becomes the bottleneck.
With ecobook, scheduling and reservation are delegated to the requestor. The system will automatically provide available rooms based on the required schedule while implementing all the business rules. The receptionist is taken out of the equation. Of course, the receptionist may still be in-charge of critical rooms such as the board room or auditorium, but at least his/her workload is reduced as the process is not delegated to the staff.
7. Uncoordinated Meeting Scheduling With Other Resources
When reserving meetings that require manpower services to setup or catering to be sent over, an extra layer of coordination is required. In most cases room reservation is disconnected from reservation of catering or request for manpower. In cases we have observed, changes to meeting schedule are not promptly conveyed to the pantry or catering department. Last minute adjustments lead to confusion and charges, especially when the catering is done by external vendors.
With ecobook, you can book the room while reserving the resources at the same time. Any changes to the room schedule will automatically trigger a notification to the catering or manpower services team to adjust their schedule accordingly. A separate interface for these teams allows them to track their work lists from within a single interface. The problems of coordination through email, chat and telephone will be eliminated.
While these problems seem trivial compared to the greater focus on business goals, culture takes a huge hit when working relationships suffer and there is underlying conflict and animosity between staff. Helping them have a good working relationship, greater team work and consequently, better productivity is necessary for the overall impact to business goals. Implementing a company wide room and resource booking system can greatly enhance company culture by eliminating such frustrations.