Why is the Conference Room Always Booked?

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You open up your company’s conference room booking software and check to see what times are available. You cross check these times with your team’s open calendars to find a suitable time for everyone. Luckily you find 30 minutes in the conference room schedule that are free. You book the time slot with your conference room software and show up only to have the first meeting run late. You glance at the conference room iPad to double check you reserved the room, which leads to the encroaching party to beg for an extra ten minutes. This leaves your team twiddling their thumbs outside the meeting room, wasting time. Unfortunately this headache of a scenario rings true to too many companies.  

Your office’s conference rooms are a finite resource. It’s a limited supply for a seemingly infinite demand. Surely our grandparents didn’t run into such scheduling conflicts on daily basis? They didn’t even have the aid of a meeting room app. How has our ability to peacefully share the conference room eroded so quickly?

The simple answer is that we’re scheduling more meetings than ever before.

Dr. Joseph Allen is an assistant professor in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He estimates that 25 million meetings are held on a single day in the United States. That’s more than twice the number of daily meetings held in 1999!

The work day of middle managers are filled with meetings. It’s estimated that 35% of a middle manager’s day is spent in a meeting. That number more than doubles for upper manager, who might spend 75% of the day in a meeting.

This increased appetite for meetings is straining the availability of your office conference room, which in turn strangles productivity. Your business can’t afford to waste time, so how can we alleviate the overbooking of a conference room?

Schedule Fewer Meetings

Unless you’re working with a Google-sized budget, chances are good you won’t be magically building new conference rooms to accommodate your office’s insatiable need for conference rooms. When the demand is greater than the supply, what can you do? Decrease demand.

It would require an organizational shift, but it’s possible to schedule less meetings. Companies like Slack offer simple internal chat tools that enable quick communication. You can set up private groups for different teams, like your design team vs. the marketing team. Team members will only have access to the messages within the groups they’re invited to.

Services like Slack offers two primary benefits. The obvious one is less dependency on conference room availability. Instead of going through the inconvenient process of finding an open time for everyone to physically meet, you can run the meeting through your Slack channel. The second benefit is that Slack has a great search function. By hosting a meeting through Slack, you’re automatically creating record of the meeting that you can reference in the future.

Offer Conference Room Scheduling Software

Even a progressive office that decreases meetings still need some face-to-face interaction with team members. There is no way to completely eliminate meetings, even if your company starts to rely more heavily on chat apps like Slack, HipChat, and FlowDock.

If meetings are a necessary evil, you might as well make scheduling them the least painful part of the process. A conference room scheduling app assuages your team’s headaches of booking a conference room by having a central calendar that everyone can book a room through. Everyone can see when the conference room is available so there is absolutely no question who has priority in the room.

Video Chat More

Technology has made leaps and bounds with video conferencing. Skype and Google Hangouts are two widely used video chat tools that are making it easier to run meetings virtually, while still being able to look your team in the eye.

It might feel funny to video chat with someone 20 feet away from you, but it can reduce your scheduling conflicts tremendously. Not every meeting is a brainstorming session where people need to doodle on the glass walls. If you’re running a SCRUM meeting and just need to get updates on your team’s status, a video chat is more than sufficient.

The reason why your conference room is always booked is simple: we’ve become too enamored with meetings. They make us feel important and busy. The sad truth is that the U.S. alone wastes $37 billion in unnecessary meetings. By reducing the need for your meetings and leveraging new technology like video chat or booking room software, your company will run smoother and you’ll have fewer quarrels over the conference room.

Image Courtesy of Design Milk