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Meeting management tips to reduce “ghost” rooms

Rachel Steinberg
By Rachel Steinberg Product Marketing Manager

As the number of employees coming into the office starts to tick up, you can expect a lot more demand for meeting rooms. With hybrid work, many employees are choosing to go into the office to collaborate with colleagues and take meetings in-person instead of on Zoom or other video conferencing tool. This means that the meeting spaces that sat empty through the majority of the pandemic are soon going to be the workplace’s hottest resource again.

We all have bad memories of taking laps around the office trying to find a meeting space. There are few things less frustrating than spotting an open and empty conference room, only to find out that it’s been booked through your company’s conference room scheduling software. Are your co-workers who booked the space just running late? Or has the room been ghosted? 

There may not be an easy way to answer that question on the spot, but here are some ways to reduce no-show rooms, and tips for better meeting room management in today’s hybrid work world.

The dreaded “ghost” room: Why no-shows are a meeting management issue

No-show meetings happen for many reasons—mostly due to ineffective meeting management. People may cancel a meeting and simply forget to release the room. More common now with hybrid work, an employee may have booked a room but are working remotely and no longer need it. Or, people have a meeting room booked but decide to meet at their desks or a common space instead. 

Ghost rooms are a menace to workplace productivity. It creates tension between co-workers who forget to release rooms and those without a space to run their meetings. It’s important to respect your co-workers and one of the best ways to do that is to respect the shared resources in the workplace. 

Tips to reduce no-show meetings and improve space utilization

Although no-show meetings are an unfortunate reality of life in the modern workplace, there are steps you can take to improve meeting management and reduce the frequency of no-shows. 

Here are five practical room booking tips to make the most of your space: 

  1. Start from scratch as employees return to the office. Clear the entire company meeting room bookings and require everyone to book a new space. This may seem like a bold move, but sometimes starting from scratch can be incredibly helpful. This will get rid of any legacy bookings from old or recurring meetings that are no longer relevant. 
  2. Require attendees to check in, from anywhere. Workplace technology has come a long way, and room booking software now offers advanced features such as remote meeting room check-in and auto cancellation. This means that someone who is running late for a meeting can still check-in to the room from an app on their smartphone while they’re on the way, letting coworkers know that they do intend to use the space. 
  3. Establish a room booking policy. As an office admin, you can set room booking policies for all employees to adhere to. For example, advanced room booking systems let you set a time-limit for folks to check-in to the room if they plan on using it. If no one checks in within the allotted time (usually 3-5 minutes), the software automatically cancels the room reservation. This frees up the space for other people to use immediately, without any manual intervention on the part of the meeting organizer. This rule also lets other employees know that they shpuld respect the room booking until the room is released. 
  4. Remind employees about the golden rule. It’s frustrating to not be able to find a conference room when you need to run a meeting. Just as you would want your co-workers to unbook and free up rooms they don’t need, you should offer the same courtesy to others. Encourage all employees to be mindful about releasing meeting rooms when meetings move, get canceled, or are taken remotely, and help to make it part of your hybrid work culture. 
  5. Analyze the data in real-time. Just like other workplace technology solutions, conference room booking systems capture data that you can analyze to find patterns in space usage. Are there certain teams who often book meetings but fail to show up? Are there certain times of day (4 p.m. or later) or days of the week (Monday or Friday) when no-show meetings are more likely to occur? Access to real-time information is invaluable to understand meeting room usage patterns, which can help you better plan your space and make sure your employees can make the most of it.

Reducing no-shows with better overall meeting room management is an important aspect of conference room etiquette, and one way we can work better together in the modern workplace. With meeting rooms in hot demand now that employees are intentionally choosing the workplace to work and collaborate with coworkers, now is the time to get on top of your meeting room management. 

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Rachel Steinberg
Author Bio Rachel Steinberg

Rachel is a product and partner marketing manager at Envoy. She not only supports Envoy's technology partners, but also helps bring to market new app integrations. In her free time, Rachel teaches pilates and tries to be outdoors in nature as much as possible.