Since May 2021, meeting room bookings have grown by 300%. This huge spike is due to folks being back in the office and needing workspaces to gather and collaborate in-person. For many, it’s an exciting time as they embrace being onsite and working with coworkers in real life again. For others, socializing together–particularly in the office–may feel daunting.
Whether you’re excited to meet your coworkers in-person again or feel some nerves, there’s no denying that face-to-face meetings are the best way to engage with and accomplish shared goals. And with a little bit of refreshing, you can quiet those nerves and make those meetings as pain-free and effective as possible.
In this post, we’ll cover 10 best practices for meeting room etiquette. Before we dive in, let’s go over what meeting room etiquette means.
What is meeting room etiquette?
Meeting rooms and conference rooms are a staple of office design. They are also a key resource for an agile workplace. They offer spaces for employees to chat about projects, ask questions, or go over reports together.
Meeting rooms should serve different employee needs. This might include quiet pods for people to get in the zone. Or it might be large rooms for teams to get together and brainstorm. Whatever the space, it’s important to treat it and your coworkers with respect.
Meeting room etiquette is how you treat your workplace’s meeting rooms and share them with your coworkers. It involves being considerate and aware of other employees who are sharing the same spaces to get their work done. Here are ten conference room etiquette tips to be aware of as you and your employees navigate the workplace.
10 tips for onsite meeting room etiquette
1. Implement a room booking system
As people return to the office, it’s important to have a meeting room reservation system in place. This will make it easy for folks to reserve, find, and use meeting rooms on the days they’re onsite. It also helps employees avoid frustration when more than one person or team needs a meeting room at the same time.
Choosing room scheduling software can feel like a big task–but it doesn’t have to be. The first step is to consider what features are important for your workplace, such as space usage analytics, privacy controls, and schedule displays. When you have a clear understanding of what you and your employees need before shopping around, it’ll make it easier to choose the right room booking system for everyone.
2. Support meeting rooms with the right technology
An effective room booking system needs to sync with other workplace technologies. After all, the last thing you want is people reserving rooms and not being able to use them because of a lack of technology or integrations.
Scenarios such as not being able to share your screen or connect to those dialing in remotely is annoying. To avoid them, equip meeting rooms with the right technology. Each meeting room should have a display screen that easily connects to folks’ laptops and quality audio equipment. A good room booking tool should allow people to book a meeting room from any device, including computers, mobile, or the scheduling screen outside of the meeting room itself. If there are any troubles with connection, ensure people can report to IT teams easily to fix any problems.
3. Book rooms in advance
For anything to be successful, planning is key. But it’s probably fair to say that folks may be a bit rusty when it comes to booking rooms in advance.
According to our data survey earlier this year, 59% of people booked meeting rooms without any notice. However, it didn’t take long for people to get into the groove again. As workplace traffic picked up, the average time for folks to book rooms in advance rose to more than 24 hours.. Encourage employees to book 1:1 conversations at least 1 day in advance, and larger team meetings at least 2 days in advance.
For the occasions you simply can’t plan in advance, your room reservation system should be equipped to deal with impromptu meetings. Ensure your meeting room system has key integrations that allow you to sync it with calendars such as Google, Slack, and Teams.
4. Use wayfinding
When your workplace is filled with different meeting rooms, it can be confusing for employees who are looking for the room they booked. If folks get lost on the way, it can make them late and delay others. It’ll also make them flustered and not in the right headspace when they arrive.
Investing in office wayfinding can be a great solution to help people locate meeting rooms around the office easily. Wayfinding can be as simple as a static map in the front of your office, or it could be an interactive tool people could use.
Pro tip: Try getting creative with your meeting room names to make them more memorable. This might be something as simple as alphabetical order or it could be more imaginative, like the top cities around the world or people’s favorite celebrities.
5. Book the right size room for the number of people
Your workplace is likely filled with different styles of meeting rooms. Some may have armchairs, couches, and small tables for comfortable 1:1 discussions. Others may embody amore formal vibe, with longer tables and leather chairs. It’s important your meeting rooms look different so they can properly serve different purposes. It’s equally important to take this into consideration when you book them–some meeting rooms might comfortably house 4 people while conference rooms are spacious enough for 10+ people. Encourage your employees to book the right size room for the people you need.
6. Avoid “ghost” rooms
Even if you’re the best meeting room manager, you’ll never be able to stop no-show meetings entirely. People often need to cancel a meeting and they might forget to release the room. Especially with hybrid work, where people’s schedules are flexible, employees may have booked a room in advance but decide at the last minute to work remotely instead. On the flip side, people who are onsite might decide to change the location to their desks or common space.
When people ghost meeting rooms, it can create frustration between coworkers and disrupt workplace productivity. Be sure to respect your co-workers and cancel meeting rooms if you need to.
7. Don’t overrun
Newsflash: folks are busy. Packed schedules and high workloads mean that people appreciate a productive meeting that starts and finishes on time.
Have a clear agenda and set expectations for people attending the meeting. For example, if you know someone is presenting in the meeting, encourage them to open everything they need before the meeting starts. This helps avoid people wasting time and running over.
8. Furnish your meeting rooms
Designing your meeting rooms may seem low on the priority list, but it helps show your employees that you’ve thought about their comfort and needs at work. This, in turn, will make them happier to be onsite. Think about the layout of your meeting rooms and what furniture will look best in each room. For example, do you want a whiteboard in each room to encourage people to think creatively? Or perhaps you want some meeting rooms to have high top tables while others have couches? Furnishing your rooms based on different employee needs will help folks choose their meeting room more carefully when they’re onsite.
9. Be aware of sound
It’s nice to hear folks laugh and talk around the office or in meeting rooms. It shows a strong workplace culture and team bonding. But when it happens for a long period of time, it can be distracting for those sitting nearby.
Be aware of sound that travels outside of your meeting room. Doing something as simple as shutting the door all the way can really help. Also, ensure the volume level from remote folks talking on the screen is reasonable and not too loud.
Remember that sound also travels two ways. If your office has music playing or folks are sitting in a breakout area close to any meeting rooms that are in use, be aware of how sound travels–it may be distracting for those meetings and attendees.
10. Provide refreshments
The days of many tiny faces on your screen for meetings are becoming less common, particularly as organizations opt for hybrid work. And while it’s great to have meetings with people in-person again, it can be tiring when people sit in a room for a long period of time.
Providing refreshments, particularly for longer meetings, is a nice way to show folks you’ve thought about them and the time they’re committing. This might be something as simple as water and glasses, or it could be some treats like cookies or snacks.
Pro tip: Consider different diets if you decide to provide refreshments for any meetings. Gluten-free snacks and fruit can be just as popular as a bowl of chips! (Maybe…)
Meeting rooms have been around for ages, but the way we use them within our workspace is constantly evolving. Understanding meeting room etiquette and respecting your coworkers will help enable everyone to have a productive and positive workplace experience.