In-person meetings (and the meeting room booking system you use to set them up) might seem like a distant memory.
But after months of working from home, many of your employees are experiencing video conference fatigue and looking forward to some much-needed face time.
Still, meeting habits have changed, and your room booking system should, too.
Here’s a glimpse at how meetings will be different and what you'll need from your technology in the future.
One benefit of working remotely over the past few months is that many of us have become more efficient. We’ve discovered a quick conversation over online collaboration tools can sometimes replace weekly status meetings. Or we’ve realized some meeting activities can be accomplished in an email.
“Once companies sort out their remote work dance steps, it will be harder—and more expensive—to deny employees those options,” says Katherine Mangu-Ward, Editor-in-Chief of Reason, in an article for Politico. “In other words, it turns out, an awful lot of meetings (and doctors’ appointments and classes) really could have been an email. And now they will be.”
These more efficient meeting habits will likely follow us as we return to the office.
But the reverse is also true. In some cases, we’ve discovered some conversations aren’t as productive via chat or email. Some meetings need to happen face-to-face, and sometimes they need to happen with little to no planning. As offices reopen, we expect to see an uptick in spontaneous one-off meetings.
In the U.S., CDC guidelines recommend workplaces continue to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet between employees for the foreseeable future.
That means many meeting rooms will need to operate at half capacity. Meeting rooms designed to accommodate 12 people may now only be safe for six.
Some meeting spaces might also need to be reconfigured into individual offices if they are too small to fit more than one or two people.
In addition to limiting meeting room capacity, workplace leaders will also need a plan to keep them clean between uses. That includes sanitizing tables and chairs. To do this efficiently and cost effectively, you’ll need real-time data on conference room utilization.
Unfortunately you won’t be able to get that if you’re using a simple calendar as your main meeting room booking system.
Your meeting room booking system needs to keep up with the changing habits of your workforce. It should make it easy for employees to book rooms anytime, anywhere.
If you don’t have a system in place now or you’re realizing it’s time to upgrade, here are the three most important features to consider.
As a workplace leader, it’s critical you have insight into how people are using your meeting rooms so you can plan accordingly. Any room reservation software you use should make it easy to see which rooms were used on a weekly, daily and hourly basis.
It should integrate with sensors so you can capture that real-time data and know which rooms need to be cleaned, see average utilization and make adjustments as needed.
With more employees planning to work remotely at least part time and more organizations shifting away from assigned seats, people will want to make the most of their time when they are in the office. They might find it more difficult to find colleagues when they need to schedule a quick meeting. It could also be harder to for them to find an available room when rooms will be at limited capacity.
Keep in mind that your office environment will likely look a little different when you return to work. In addition to being able to reserve a quiet space to work or book a conference room, employees might also need to know where they can find hand sanitizer or which common areas might be closed for the day.
We’re all a little wary of shared surfaces these days. After touching a point-of-sale system at the grocery store, you’ve probably felt the need to sanitize your hands. And as people return to the workplace, they might be more apprehensive of touch screens.
Having software that allows people to book a meeting space from a mobile app eliminates the need to use room displays as touch screens if they choose. It also allows them to book rooms anywhere, even if they’re working remotely and planning to come into the office later.
Other employees might still prefer the ease of booking a room with digital displays as they’re walking by. These displays can also help employees remember conference room names and see each room’s capacity.
The way we work has been changing for years, and the pandemic has accelerated the pace of that change.
After several months of working from home, employees will expect more from their workplace than a place to sit for eight hours a day, five days a week.
Their health and safety will be their primary concern, but they’re also craving connections with others. They want to have the kinds of casual conversations that happen naturally in the workplace while still being productive. They need to be able to find people they haven’t seen in awhile, who might not be sitting in the same places every day.
And by investing in the right technology, you can make that easy for them. You can also get insights on how they are using the workplace so you can make adjustments as needed—and be ready for whatever comes next.
A member of the Business Development team, Glenn has years of experience with business process improvement on the Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Management sides.