Chances are, you put a ton of effort into your organization’s return-to-office plans in 2021. The good news is, your work was worth it: workplace traffic grew more than 300% from May 2020 to the end of 2021. One of the draws of working on-site is that employees can meet and collaborate in person—something many of them weren’t able to do during the worst phases of the pandemic.
To understand how much in-person interactions grew over the past year, we analyzed Envoy’s proprietary platform data, which offers a proxy for global meeting room booking trends. Here are some hot takeaways:
- Demand for in-person collaboration grew. Meeting room bookings increased more than 3X in the second half of 2021 compared to the first half.
- Competition to secure a room is higher in the middle of the week. Nearly 70% of all rooms are booked during the middle of the week. Fridays are by far the least popular day.
- Folks are scheduling meetings further in advance. At the beginning of 2021, employees scheduled meetings just hours in advance. At the end of the year, they scheduled more than a day in advance.
Now let’s take a closer look at what’s going on with meeting rooms and on-site collaboration.
Meeting room bookings are on an upward trend
As the workplace gets busier with more people on-site, meeting spaces are in higher demand. Employees not only need a space to gather face-to-face. They also need to be able to loop remote folks in virtually. In 2021, meeting room bookings increased 3X in the second half of the year compared to the first half.
In a previous post, we forecasted that workplace traffic would grow by at least 50% in 2022. As the return-to-office continues, we expect demand for meeting rooms to continue to increase in line with or even outpace workplace traffic. Here are some ways you can prepare for an increase in demand for meeting rooms:
- Survey your employees to understand what type of meeting spaces they prefer. You may have too many of one type or not enough of another, resulting in the underuse of available rooms
- Use conference room scheduling software to help folks easily find and book a room
- Related to the above, find a tool that’ll also allow employees to “release” their room to others if their meeting ends early
The growth in meeting room demand is a signal that employees want to work on-site. To support them, take action to optimize your meeting room space and make the booking experience painless.
Nearly 70% of all meetings are booked during the middle of the week
Most meeting rooms are booked during the middle of the week. In fact, nearly 70% of all bookings are made from Tuesday through Thursday. Here are a few tips for managing the mid-week demand for rooms:
- Ask employees to consider meeting in communal spaces if they don’t have to meet in a room. This will free up space for folks who need meeting room technology to present or collaborate with remote teammates
- Regularly remind employees to remove meetings from their calendars if they plan to be on vacation. This will free up space for folks looking to book a room later in the week
- Set a minimum capacity for rooms. This will ensure that a room that can accommodate five or more people isn’t booked by one person
Relative to workplace traffic, there are fewer meetings that occur at the end of the week. Friday only accounts for 12% of room bookings. This tells us that employees who go in on Fridays may choose to get more heads-down work done.
Most meeting rooms were booked ad hoc in 2021
As the workplace got busier, employees have opted to book meeting rooms further in advance. In 2021, 59% of meetings were booked ad hoc, meaning they were reserved by an employee at the moment that they needed the room. The remaining 41% of meetings were reserved in advance.
Employees tend to book further out the busier the workplace became. Earlier in 2021, employees who reserved a room ahead of time booked it just hours in advance. Toward the end of the year, when workplace traffic picked up, they booked their room on average more than 24 hours in advance.
Going back to the point we made earlier, it’s critical that employees have the tools they need to book a meeting room without any fuss. When folks can work efficiently and get stuff done while on-site, they’re more likely to want to return to the workplace.
The latest data shows that meeting rooms are in high demand. You’ve done the hard work to bring people back on-site. Now, be sure employees have access to the space they need to work productively as more people return.
Want to dive into the full report? At Work: the 2022 workplace trends report is packed with data to give you an up-to-date view of the state of the physical workplace. Get your copy today!
At Work: the 2022 workplace trends report
We analyzed Envoy’s proprietary platform data looking at more than 27 million workplace sign-ins around the globe and surveyed 400 workplace leaders to bring you the latest workplace trends. Sign up to get a copy of the report.Get my copy