Have you ever had the experience of booking a meeting in advance, only to find that when you go to the meeting room to start your meeting, it is occupied by others? What’s worse is that the people in the room are looking at you as if you’re in the wrong place, even though you rightfully booked the meeting room. Oftentimes, meeting rooms get hijacked when we need them the most, such as before an important conference call or status update meeting.
Why do people steal meeting rooms? How can we prevent meeting room theft from occurring? There are a number of reasons why people steal meeting rooms. These are some of the scenarios one might encounter.
“This meeting is really important. Could you please find another room for your meeting?”
Some people think their meeting is more important than someone else’s. Even if a meeting is low key and there aren’t any managers in the room, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Employees should be respectful of everyone’s meeting room reservations, regardless of their purpose.
“Oops, I didn’t know you booked this room. Sorry, I’ll go see if I can find another one.”
Then there are those who steal meeting rooms because they don’t have a room reserved and there aren’t any available. Others simply don’t care if others have booked a room and use it anyway because they couldn’t be bothered with booking rooms in advance. These people typically walk around the office until they find an empty room.
“Sorry but someone hijacked our meeting room, so we really need this one.”
And last but not least, there are those who steal meeting rooms because someone stole theirs. There is no justification for stealing another person’s meeting room, however, even if someone stole yours. Making this a habit would just lead to no meeting room being safe from theft.
The problem is that not having the right room booking tools in place can ultimately lead people to hijack rooms. If you aren’t using a meeting room booking system, it’s probably not uncommon for meeting rooms to sit empty because people didn’t show up to their meetings or they simply forgot to cancel. Or maybe someone booked a recurring meeting in a room and never canceled the meeting series, even though they aren’t having that meeting anymore.
For starters, communicate your room booking policy across the company. People should have a clear understanding of how meeting rooms should be booked and how to avoid booking conflicts.
The simplest way to prevent meeting room theft is to put tablets outside of your meeting rooms, where people can easily review the status of a room and whether it is reserved or free. These tablets can integrate with your meeting room booking system so that it is constantly updated with the latest meeting room bookings and schedules. If the tablet shows that the meeting room is free, a person can book the room right on the spot. Meeting organizers also have the option to free up the room using the tablet if they are done early so that others can occupy the room.
Having a meeting room booking sign right outside the meeting room also tends to prevent rooms from sitting empty because people can tell right away if a room is available and book it, or the room could be freed up if the meeting organizer doesn’t check into the meeting. This could also encourage people to show up on time to their meetings. Meeting room digital signs eliminate the guesswork of trying to figure out whether or not a meeting room is available.
Meeting rooms should be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Whoever reserves a meeting room should get it. No one on the team should have special privileges. If someone has the need to use a room that is already taken, the team member should contact the person who has already booked the room to see if they can move their meeting to a different room or reschedule it. People are more accommodating than you’d think, so it never hurts to ask around if you really need a meeting room and aren’t able to find one.
If all of your meeting rooms are fully booked most of the time, you might want to consider the need for expanding your office. If you have access to reporting on resource usage, such as that offered by Resource Central, it might reveal that the meeting rooms you do have are not being used optimally. This could mean that you simply need to reorganize existing space rather than add more meeting rooms as a band-aid solution.
Whether you need access to meeting room booking information, reporting, or digital signage software for meeting rooms that integrates with Microsoft Outlook®, Exchange, and Office 365, Add-On Products can help. We offer Resource Central, an easy-to-use meeting room booking tool for Outlook®, as well as Digital Sign Service meeting room signage software. Contact us today to schedule a free trial or free online demo!