How To (Finally) End Room Scheduling Conflicts This Year

by James McDonald on January 13, 2022
How To Simplify Room Scheduling In 3 Steps

It’s Tuesday morning, and several departments are eager to schedule meetings in person after working remotely for so long.  

No one anticipates a shortage of meeting rooms, but when they arrive, the room status shows everything is booked already. Yet half those rooms are actually empty. Someone reserved them long ago and just never canceled the reservation. Room scheduling shouldn’t be this frustrating.

Nearly three out of four US employees returned to the office at least one day a week last year, according to an Owl Labs survey. As people begin to return to the office, a familiar problem may be making a comeback too: The problem of “false scarcity” when it comes to available meeting rooms.

This happens when employees rely on a calendar system like Google, Outlook or Office 365 for room scheduling. These apps allow anyone to make recurring reservations for a room whenever they create a new meeting, but they don’t always reflect the realities of today’s hybrid workplace.

See how to simplify room scheduling for good this year.

In-person meetings might become virtual at a moment’s notice. A quick, casual conversation or a few Slack messages might replace a regularly scheduled weekly meeting, but no one remembers to cancel the room reservation. An employee moves on to another job opportunity, but all their recurring room reservations remain on your company’s calendar app — so when employees search for available rooms, they can’t find any.

Instead of having their department meeting as planned or taking an important client call in a quiet room, they end up having a quick huddle in the hallway or taking that call in the stairwell.  

It doesn’t have to be this way. With the right room reservations system, you can eliminate three primary issues with conference room scheduling: false scarcity, phantom reservations, and double-booked rooms.

3 room scheduling problems you can solve with conference room scheduling software

False scarcity of meeting spaces

iOFFICE’s room reservation software and Teem by iOFFICE’s room scheduling software both have systems with checks and balances to help you eliminate unattended reservations.

One way to do this is by using the administrative controls to require check-in for each reservation. If no one checks in after a certain period of time, that room becomes available to be reserved again.

Both solutions also integrate with sensors to gather real-time data on room usage so you can automatically cancel room reservations if no activity is detected within a period of time.

With the iOFFICE Hummingbird app or the Teem mobile app, employees can see all available spaces and search for the one that best fits their needs.

They can see meeting room locations, search for rooms near their colleagues, see the room capacity, and see what A/V equipment and amenities are available.  

Another benefit of these room booking tools is the ability to turn any tablet into a room display. This makes it easy for employees to see a room’s availability at a glance, book it at a moment’s notice, or extend their own reservation.

Unattended reservations

 Unattended reservations, sometimes called “ghost” meetings, occur when someone forgets to cancel a reservation when their schedules changes. When the same unattended reservation stays unnoticed on your company’s calendar for weeks or months, the meeting room sits empty, draining valuable space and resources. Teem trademarked the term “Zombie meetings” to refer to these recurring unattended reservations that happen all too often when an employee leaves the company and forgets to cancel all their previously scheduled reservations.

This is becoming more common with a reported 74% of disengaged employees actively seeking new opportunities or keeping their eye out for openings – and CBS just reported that more than 20 million people quit their jobs in the second half of 2021.

Calendar apps such as Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook may be useful for individual users or small teams to see their specific schedules, but trying to manage multiple meeting spaces in calendar-based apps can get tricky.

With room scheduling solutions that offer single sign-on, administrators can easily onboard or offboard employees with just their email address.

Double-booked rooms

It took two weeks, but you did it. You finally managed to find the one 30-minute block of time where every meeting attendee was not only available, but scheduled to be in the office that day.

You’ve put together a stellar PowerPoint outlining the new initiative you’ve been talking about for months. And you’ve reserved the one conference room that has ample seating and the equipment you need for your presentation.

There’s just one problem: when you get to the conference room, you discover another team has booked it — for the entire day – even though the room was listed as available on your Outlook app. Unfortunately, that’s one of the shortcomings of using Outlook for conference room scheduling. When you create an event in Outlook, you have the option to designate it as “All day” or select specific hours. If you choose “All day”, the space selected for the meeting will still appear as free to other Outlook users.

The best room scheduling solutions don’t even make double booking an option. Once someone has reserved a room for the day, other users won’t see it as available when they search.

How to find the right room scheduling software

Reserving a meeting room should be as simple for your employees as ordering a cup of coffee: straightforward, fast, and accessible from a smartphone or tablet. The right solution will give employees access to abundance, not a false sense of scarcity.

If you have a large organization with many locations, iOFFICE simplifies room scheduling and desk booking while offering full visibility into your entire real estate portfolio through an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) that includes space management software and other facilities management tools.

Request a demo to learn more about how it can help you optimize space utilization, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency while delivering an exceptional employee experience.

If you don’t need a full IWMS, Teem by iOFFICE is a simple space booking solution your team can implement within a day, even without a floor plan. Get a closer look at how it works.


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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