Jul 14, 2022

Meeting Room Etiquette – 5 most important rules to follow when returning to the office

Are you planning on returning to the office this autumn? Here are 5 rules to follow to ensure a functioning meeting room usage, while also keeping your meetings fun and effective.

Are you planning on returning to the office this autumn? Here are 5 essential rules to follow regarding meeting room etiquette to ensure a functioning usage of your conference rooms while also keeping your meetings fun and effective.

Good etiquette is defined as the set of guidelines regulating accepted behavior in specific social situations. A common understanding among employees of the etiquette at your office is crucial to ensure smooth interactions on a daily basis, and meeting rooms are no exception.

After all, meeting rooms might just be one of the most important spaces in our offices. Most business decisions are made in conference rooms, and new ideas often emerge in workshops over food and drinks. However, after spending the last two years working mostly remote, it can be necessary to go over the meeting room etiquette once again – in order to create a smooth transition back to the office.

We have, in many ways, grown used to conducting our meetings over video calls, but there are some clear benefits to meeting face-to-face in an office environment. We might create stronger bonds with our co workers and have an easier time understanding social cues. We might even have better discussions where more people can pitch in with important ideas. Even though agile workspaces and activity-based working environments have created a wide variety of environments to work from, meeting rooms remain largely the same and continue to be a vital part of our office environment.

However, even if meeting rooms are seen as an essential asset, they will only be as effective as the people using them. Because activity-based workspaces adhere to different sets of rules (different etiquette, if I may), it can be a good idea to clarify what differs a closed-off meeting room from a workshop area or an open workplace area and what rules need to be followed when using these types of spaces. The office space can be both employee-centered and effective when common etiquette is established for each type of shared space.

Here are 5 rules for meeting room usage that everyone should follow to create a frictionless workflow when returning to the busy office this autumn.

1. Meeting rooms need to be booked to be used

One of the most common problems with meeting rooms is inadequate booking practices. Unlike workshop or open office areas, meeting rooms tend to be for more formal activities, and not having one available when you need it might create serious disruptions to employees' workflow.

With that said, this does not mean that all meeting rooms have to be booked in advance. Being able to book conference rooms ad-hoc might even be crucial in some instances. It does mean, however, that you need to have a booking system in place that makes it easy for employees to book a meeting room when needed.

An example of this can be a meeting room booking app, where employees can book both in advance and directly. One key thing most employees find helpful is a conference room booking system that can be directly connected to their work calendar. In that way, it's easy to invite participants and show the location of the meeting room beforehand.

Using a meeting room booking system will make sure that the current availability of all meeting rooms will be visible to everyone, making sure that double bookings can be avoided. If someone took the conference room without a booking, it would be simple to understand who has the right to use it during the time period in question. An orderly process of booking is absolutely crucial.

2. Always cancel bookings of conference rooms for non-appearances

If meeting room booking is important, it's just as important to cancel meetings for non-appearances. Cancellations free up space for people who might need it and makes conference room availability more accurate. Having this as a clear rule in your office won't only minimize disruptions and increase efficiency, but it will also improve your overall office usage. Make sure to create clear processes that make sure that employees can cancel their reservations as early as possible.

But even with the most well-meaning employees, things can happen, and people forget. A good solution could be adding meeting room panels outside each meeting room and activating manual check-in. Employees will then need to confirm the usage before a meeting starts. If no one checks in, the meeting room will be automatically released without any human interaction needed.

3. Be punctual

Meeting room bookings usually work quite well when there are few bookings during a day, but if a meeting room has a full schedule, it will be necessary for everyone to be on time and leave the room on time. Schedule meetings that take more time than previously expected can easily start a chain reaction that will make everyone late. Make sure that it is clear to everyone that the meeting time applies to everyone, even to whoever thinks their meeting is the most important.

Ensure that all employees follow the rule of the schedule. If your meeting takes longer than expected, you are required to leave the conference room if it's booked by someone else. If the conference room has no other booking in connection to the meeting, make sure that everyone has the habit of extending their meeting using a room panel outside the meeting room or by extending the meeting on their mobile phone. This will not only guarantee that no one else books the meeting room ad-hoc and then interrupts the ongoing meeting but also ensure that the availability of the meeting room will always be accurately shown.

Remember that this rule should also apply if a meeting ends early. All employees should have the habit of ending a meeting early on the room panel or mobile phone to indicate to others that the conference room is now available. This might just give someone the time to take a quick meeting before another one starts.

Ensuring that all employees respect the booking times will create an atmosphere of mutual respect and will make meeting room usage much more efficient.

4. Leave the conference room as you found it

While this should be common sense, the importance of making sure that you keep the meeting rooms clean and orderly for the next guests cannot be overstated. Meetings can result in materials being spread out across the rooms, and if the conference room is left in a bad condition, it can result in the next group of guests having to spend some time from their meeting tidying up after the first. This is not only a massive source of frustration but also highly ineffective. Not only should your rules contain directions on how to book and cancel a conference room, but it also needs to contain clear guidance on how to leave them.

Make sure to put up conference room etiquette signs reminding employees what the meeting room should look like after a meeting. If employees have the option to request cleaning between meetings, the contact information for the cleaning department should be easy to access, and the time frame in which this can be requested should also be clearly stipulated. Many meeting room booking solutions do offer a housekeeping function, where employees can file cleaning requests or error reports directly to the responsible department.

Making sure that all meeting rooms are cleaned and furnished with functioning equipment is one of the most critical aspects of meeting room etiquette.

5. Utilize the conference room after clear need

Everyone should be able to access meeting rooms, however, this does not mean that everyone should be able to book everywhere or that employees can book how many meetings they want. For example, a large meeting room with 10 seats might be very popular because it's located on the top floor with a great view, but just because you can book it for your one-on-one meeting does not mean that you should. It might be nice to work on individual work from a quiet meeting room, but this does not mean that you should book meeting rooms back-to-back just because you can.

It is important to consider creating rules within your meeting room booking system to ensure that some meeting rooms are only available for specific departments. The management team might need some meeting rooms more frequently, and it might be important that they are always available for them. Within a meeting room booking system, it's often possible to restrict booking, making some meeting rooms available for only some departments.

But the most important thing is to ensure that employees understand and respect the boundaries of what meeting rooms should be used for and that employees understand that it's important to book meeting rooms of the right size with the equipment they need. Otherwise, you risk creating inefficiencies along the way.

Want guidance on how to optimize your meeting room management?

Feel free to contact us to learn more about meeting room solutions and how technology can help you streamline clear meeting room etiquette without interfering with employees' day-to-day work.

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