7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Meeting Rooms
Don’t let meeting rooms lie vacant when the space could be used more effectively. Adopting an agile workplace approach to your meeting rooms will allow them to meet the needs of your business.
Space is one of the most precious commodities in busy workplaces, so having one or more rooms dedicated just for meetings can seem extravagant unless you’re using them all the time. It’s simply not a good return on investment to leave large chunks of your real estate vacant too often. The agile workplace model lets you get more out of your meeting rooms and optimises the use of your space by creating rooms that meet the functions performed there.
Making the most of your meeting rooms isn’t just about finding different ways to use them. It’s about properly equipping and managing their use. Here are 7 tips for maximising the use of your valuable meeting room space:
- Different ways to use a meeting room
Don’t let the name mislead you – meeting rooms don’t just have to be for meetings. Any room in your workplace should be a space where people can do their best work. Now that personal offices are becoming less and less common, smart businesses are finding ways to optimise the space they’ve got and the functions that need to be performed in them. If someone needs a quiet space away from the bustle of the open plan, a meeting room is a great sanctuary. You may be trying to focus on finishing that report, or need to brainstorm with your team, or run a videoconference. Or you may need a space to entertain or run a training session. The possibilities are endless for how you can best use this space.
- Properly equipping your meeting room
Versatility is the key to making the most of your meeting room. If you only equip it for meetings, it will only be used for meetings. Choose furniture that can adapt to the different ways the room can be used. Instead of a large, space-consuming boardroom table, consider putting several sit-stand desks together or using a folding table that can be flipped and pushed out of the way when it’s not needed. Use credenzas to discreetly store items you may use for entertainment, like crockery and glassware, as well as notepads, pens and markers for actual meetings. Lounges are becoming a popular and comfortable seating option that can make the room ideal for informal entertaining or as the perfect place to escape to. Of course, each room should have a whiteboard or glassboard installed with proper cleaning tools so nothing is left on them when the room is vacated. And most importantly, fit your room with a good wifi signal and the right tech, like a mounted projector.
- Naming your meeting rooms
Having a name for each meeting room will make it possible to properly schedule their use and have people meet you in the right place. If you don’t have a naming convention in your business, choose names that reflect your business identity, not just numbers. This is one small way to infuse positive and inspirational language into your workplace culture. You could honour the heroes of your industry, like the Steve Jobs Room or Elon Musk Room. Maybe your business could benefit from naming your meeting rooms with power words like Perseverance, Integrity or Initiative. Or you could use local landmarks for inspiration.
- Easy scheduling
Add your meeting rooms to your Outlook or Google Apps so that they can be selected when scheduling your appointments or even if you just want to see what’s available at the moment. The easier it is to find and allocate a room, the more likely it is that people will do it. You can also add signage outside the room itself to indicate its availability. This could be a tablet mounted to the door, a foyer stand, or a magnetic frame you can easily open and close to rotate a sign that reads occupied and vacant.
- Walk-in only
If you have several meeting rooms, consider nominating one or more as walk-in only. If someone needs to jump in a room quickly to take a call or work on something in peace, they can do so without having to schedule it. Glass walls or doors on these rooms make their availability obvious.
- Embedding it in your culture
The people in your workplace need to adapt to any change that is introduced, and if your meeting rooms were exclusively for meetings, it could take time for the mental shift to occur. Millennials will likely jump at the chance to adopt the new policy, and management can lead by example to encourage the multipurpose use of the rooms. If you make your meeting rooms attractive, easy-to-use, comfortable and properly equipped, you’ll find the demand will rise quickly.
Set clear expectations for the use of these rooms from the start and have everyone, even managers, show respect for other users. It may be as simple as a “leave it as you found it" policy (assuming it was tidy when you entered). If you brought in a coffee, take it with you when you go and wipe up any spills or rings. Is one of the chairs faulty? Remove it and report it to the right person. You want to be able to walk in confidently with a client, for instance, and know everything will be in order. Keeping cleaning products in your credenza and a bin in the room will make this easier.
You don’t need a fully agile workplace to benefit from the advantages of this design. Adopting a multipurpose policy for your meeting rooms can give you some of the flexibility of the agile workplace without the extreme makeover, and it will make better use of your meeting rooms.