Efficient space management affects multiple levels of an organization, especially the bottom line (for example, rooms require electricity and climate control, even if they’re underused or empty), but also intangibles like overall employee satisfaction and workplace productivity.
There are plenty of potential headaches when using meeting rooms – double bookings, overbooking resources, rooms are booked but not used, too many calendaring systems (or ones that don’t talk to one another), no clear way to book a space on the fly, and so on. A lot of employee time is wasted in medium- to large-sized organization just looking for a place to meet.
To get the most out of your facility’s spaces, you need to follow the 3 Ms – Measure, Monitor and Manipulate.
You need to be able to see how the people in your organization are actually using your spaces. Which rooms are used most often? Which ones remain empty more often? Are rooms being used to capacity, or do you have small groups booking large rooms they just rattle around in (or conversely, large groups crammed into smaller spaces)? Are the people who book rooms with resources like projectors, telephones, whiteboards and computers actually using those resources?
Can you see any noticeable trends – are there peak times and/or days? Does one team or department book more than others, and do they choose the space most appropriate to their meeting goals? Are some spaces more popular than others?
When considering activity-based workspaces, it’s easy to measure usage – just walk around and see what the traffic is, how many people are around, how many workstations are empty for part or all of a day. You can do the same with meeting rooms, but looking at your scheduling software might be a better way to visualize long-term trends. And there are other ways to measure that also allow you to monitor what’s goes on in your facility at the same time.
Some companies use tracking sensors, placed on furnishings like tables or seats, that detect when a person is near them. These are expensive, but allow pinpoint accuracy – right down to which chair is favored over another. Beacons can tell you when someone enters or leaves a room, and some beacon systems can integrate with mobile apps that require people to check in when using a space. This is a more modern version of badge- or card-enabled locks on doors. You can also implement Wifi triangulation that uses mobile phone or tablet location information (or data from an embedded chip in an ID card).
Each of these methods has its pros and cons – some of them can yield quite a lot of very specific data, but can feel sort of Big Brother to employees, while others require employees to remember to check in or otherwise use the monitoring system.
You also want to see how people reserve spaces – is everyone comfortable using the internal online reservation system, or do some people prefer to walk around and look at the spaces before selecting one?
How can you as an organization react to data about how meeting spaces are used, increasing efficiencies? Consider the different cost points for rooms, such as heating and lighting – some companies integrate beacons with controls that turn on lights and climate controls when people enter the room, and off when they leave.
You can also assign personnel who are dedicated to upkeep of meeting rooms, making sure things are turned off when vacant, checking on AV equipment and other resources, etc. However, this seems like an unnecessary expense and, frankly, a pretty boring job.
However you do it, you want to use the data you gather to optimize your space management, adjusting as trends and patterns change.
Connect Room Signs
Connect interactive room signs can help with many of these issues. These are mounted next to meeting rooms, and the first noticeable feature is that rooms currently vacant show a green availability light on the room sign, while those in use show a red light – you see at a glance which rooms are open or occupied.
The screen shows the room number, the current schedule of bookings for that room and whatever resources are available (projector, whiteboard, etc.). If a resource is absent, or doesn’t work, you simply touch the appropriate icon on the screen, and an email is sent to a designated recipient (office manager, etc.) informing them there’s a problem. That particular resource is shown as unavailable until the maintenance has been carried out.
Since Connect room signs integrate with your calendaring software, any bookings or changes made in the software are instantly reflected on the room sign. But you can also book rooms right at the sign itself, with the information being sent to the scheduling software. If the room you want is already booked, that room sign shows you other rooms that are currently free.
Connect rooms signs also let the organization track room usage in real-time. Once it’s time for the meeting, you can start the meeting by touching an icon on the screen, as well as end it when you are finished. A meeting can also be extended or canceled with a simple touch as well. This can help with visibility into usage trends, so you can better streamline your booking guidelines.
If desired, Connect room signs can be protected with an administrative PIN, so only authorized personnel have access. Your logo can be displayed, or that of a visiting company that is using your space or are your guests. The displays are also additional real estate for your digital signage messages or any other image you’d like to display, like “turn off phones”, wifi passwords and more.
Connect room signs can help you increase efficiencies in space management, as well as measure and monitor how those spaces are used. You can then use this data to manipulate and increase efficiencies even further, leading to lower overhead costs and greater user satisfaction.