Do you Lack Meeting Room Space? Without Exception, Every Company or Agency I Speak with has This Problem

The inevitable problem of not having enough meeting room space

The nature of work has been changing from less individual focus-time work, to more group collaboration work.  The result: Time spent in meetings has increased significantly.

This doesn’t mean that all meetings are effective or that individual time is unimportant.  But, there is a trend towards an increasing amount of time working with others to solve problems, and to collaborate and innovate in the workplace.

“…Research has shown that while individual work might sometimes result in a faster answer, collaboration consistently delivers deeper and richer ideas because of the broad perspectives and cross-pollination of ideas that teams can offer…” 360 Research

“A Steelcase joint research study with Corenet Global found that two-thirds of organizations collaborate between 60% to 80% of the time. There’s good reason for it — collaboration works. Research has shown that while individual work might sometimes result in a faster answer, collaboration consistently delivers deeper and richer ideas because of the broad perspectives and cross-pollination of ideas that teams can offer. But whether alone or in a group, the drive for innovation requires greater creativity.” 360 Research

The reality is building collaborative solutions means more meeting space is required.

Two trends working against the availability of meeting space

1. Companies are reducing their real estate footprint (less space = less rooms).

Often the biggest fixed cost a company has is their real estate.  Some are reducing their space to save money but most just don’t need as much real estate as they used to.

Why not? 

More flexible work policies allow people to work away from the office such as at home, on customer premises or even on the road. Secondly, companies are redesigning their workspace to accommodate more people in less space while making the workspace much better to work in. Finally, personal computing devices are allowing workers to take their work with them anywhere they go.

I have heard clients say that they can “shoot a cannon off” on a floor and no one would get hurt.  People are just not in the office as much.  Some will even argue it is easier to get individual work done when you are out of the office.

I have a friend in the Commercial Real Estate market, who visits clients and often tells them they have too much real estate because they just aren’t utilizing the space the way they used to.

2. Organizations do not effectively use the rooms they have.

As it can be really tough to get a room or space to meet in, you’d think it makes sense to utilize the space that you already have right? Unfortunately rooms often sit idle more than they should because the systems are not in place to manage these spaces properly.

What happens?

People book a meeting room and then plans change but they forget to free up the meeting room. This is how meeting space is wasted.  Offices are left empty when their owner is away – another wasted opportunity for meeting space. Meetings take longer than they should for a number of reasons none of which are related to how the actual meeting is conducted. These are examples of wasted time and valuable meeting spaces.

Another example of wasting time is “finding a place to meet”.  As per Steelcase Workplace Surveys:

  • 70% of employees report losing up to 15 minutes a day looking for a place to collaborate with teammates
  • 23% waste up to 30 minutes daily.

This is costly for organizations and has a real impact on productivity.

On the bright side, there are ways to combat both trends that work against the availability of meeting space.

This table provides you with multiple solutions for solving the inevitable problem of not having enough meeting room space.

Getting More Space From Less Space How to More Effectively Use Meeting Rooms
Move from less “I” space to more “We” space – more flexible space Scheduling systems
Virtual meetings Enabling faster start time
Automate meeting wrap up
Make technology easier to use

I will discuss the details around the solutions, which offset having less real estate in our next blog.

Identifying your lack of meeting space is half the battle. The next step is about finding the right solution for your organization. Contact us to discuss the situation in your office and stay tuned for our next blog Part 2: How to Get More Space From Less Space – Factors Offsetting Less Real Estate, where I will delve deeper into the solutions in the table above which help to make meeting collaboratively easier, by making more ‘meeting space’ available.

Comments
  • Joe Rohde says:

    So if meeting room ‘space’ is at a premium and is simultaneously underutilized does that argue that the paradigm itself is flawed? People ‘meet’ in the most convenient locations and requiring them to be present in a specific location in order to collaborate seems to go against the grain.

    • The traditional model of meeting room space and how it is managed needs to evolve Joe – and it is evolving. People do meet in the most convenient spaces, but sometimes the most convenient space is still company meeting space – WE space. Organizations do need to make sure they can bring in meeting participants into those WE spaces from where ever the person wants to connect from and provide a rich experience for all.

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