Meeting rooms. Desks. Employees use them both and they’re both a part of workplace design for employees to do their jobs. So, why not take a macro view and understand occupancy and utilization levels at the floor plate level?
Well, for two reasons. One, meeting rooms/ spaces are not the same thing as workstations. They have different occupancy target levels and employee behaviors when using meeting spaces are different which demands their own set of metrics. Secondly, especially important in the age of agile – by measuring total floor plate usage, it’s possible to be missing out on cost benefits – reducing meeting room size or eliminating meeting space simply because most employees work from home or prefer the café in the lobby to meet!
Let’s have a deeper look into meeting rooms, the important metrics to monitor and how to use metrics to achieve greater balance in facilities.
A meeting room is its own space type and they come in various sizes for various purposes. There are informal two people meeting rooms all the way to formal corporate boardrooms. Typically, they’re private and designed for group communication without disrupting flow in the main working area.
Why It’s Important to Measure Meeting Room Usage Separately
CRES’ responsibilities extends to ensuring safe, comfortable and sufficient spaces in-line with corporate goals and core business objectives. To maximize space provision, it’s necessary to treat space types as their own entities. If tracking the wrong data, by conflating workstation usage with meeting room usage, metrics will be skewered making opportunity identification difficult. Meeting rooms and workstations have different purposes and grouping usage metrics together will not provide the insight necessary to optimize deployment.
The target usage metric for meeting spaces is between 40-60% of the time. This percentage represents core business hours when people are scheduling their meetings during the workday. Meanwhile, during the same timeframe, target workstation usage is between 70-90%. Again, meeting rooms and desks are different space types designed for different purposes.
Utilization and Occupancy Meeting Room Metrics Outlining Usage
Capturing when meeting rooms are being used, by whom, for how long and by how many people will provide a wealth of data which can easily be turned around to formulate any rightsizing opportunities. Therefore, occupancy and utilization data capture is key. Just a quick reminder, occupancy refers to the number of people in a meeting space while utilization is how often a meeting space is being used. Broadly, the valuable questions to ask giving the clarity needed are:
- How often is a meeting room being used?
- Who is using a meeting room?
- What is the average number of people in a meeting?
- What is the target occupancy of a meeting room?
- Does actual occupancy match intended occupancy?
- What is the number and frequency of meetings in a fixed timeframe (daily, weekly, etc..)
- Do teams favor particular meeting rooms with specific technology?
- How many bookings are going unfulfilled, or ghosted?
- How much time has been reclaimed? Where a booking goes unfulfilled, it can be released allowing others to book.
Capturing metrics on meeting room occupancy and utilization enables benchmarking and trend identification. These data sets will fuel change, either softer behavioral change amongst meeting space users or hard changes such as introducing new meeting space types or physically changing current meeting spaces.
How Capturing Meeting Room Usage Metrics Leads to Better Usage
Collecting and analysing usage metrics illustrates how meeting space is being used indicating if they remain an investment worth maintaining from a CRES perspective.
Aggregating metrics answering the questions asked above will reveal some interesting facts about how employees are using meeting rooms.
Broadly capturing occupancy and utilization metrics as well as demographic usage will enable very deep trend analysis. Segmenting data by user types or business groups will help identify how meeting rooms used can be improved.
Segmenting Meeting Room Analytics
Capturing data on meeting room usage and who’s using will give a very good picture as to preferences by business group (as well as indicating any group level bad practices).
Identifying usage patterns based on commonalities (Business Group A only books meeting rooms for 6+ meeting attendees while B books for 4-5 people to attend) will outline effective education strategies shifting chargeback and prorates to spaces.
Re-education on Booking/ Usage or Introducing Penalties
Segmenting data to understand patterns of usage based on common clusters of people will help to identify strategies for changing behavior and bring occupancy closer to that 40-60% utilization target.
Education strategies may look to ensure that meeting room usage is in-line with design purpose (i.e. a 6-person meeting room isn’t being used by one person to run a web-ex). Additionally, analysing when employees are trying to book meeting space for and identifying booking bottlenecks will help to rightsize availability and ease frustrations. Education strategies to relieve meeting room booking density can be as simple as encouraging internally held meetings to be held at times outside of historical peaks.
Digging into usage analytics, it’s possible to identify those team members who are abusing meeting room policy – booking a 6-person meeting room for only 2 or regularly ghosting rather than cancelling and help them to understand how such a seemingly trivial issue can have a big effect on the company, and motivate them to improve booking behavior in the future.
If inappropriate use or ghosting persists, CRES Teams will have the behavioral evidence needed to penalize persistent transgressors until behavior is in-line with expectations.
Redevelop new spaces reflective of usage trends/ needs
Feedback from metrics or meeting room users may come back that current meeting space isn’t meeting needs. Additionally, reviewing daily floorplate occupancy levels will help to understand number of meeting spaces is in-line with wider, general usage.
Measuring meeting space usage and segmenting will help to identify opportunities to align meeting space provision to user expectations. Contemporary meeting spaces have evolved with many styles now supporting different needs from layout to technology. There are many examples of open, informal meeting space designed for teams to openly communicate and create.
With more organizations adopting flexible working practices in-line with agile cultures, organizations may simply be carrying more meetings rooms than will ever be used. An emerging best practice is to review general floor/ building average peak occupancy attendance to look for consolidation opportunities – we all know the cost that shadow space and unused space carries. If the average peak occupancy of a floor is 80 where the space was designed for 200, there is some low hanging fruit available – divesting both desks and meeting rooms.
With greater fluidity in office occupancy, CRES Teams are having an increasingly difficult time identifying wasted space and gauging the efficacy of space usage. Space deployment and balancing for users is also one of the most complicated to perfect.
Treating meeting spaces as the unique space types they are and capturing metrics on their usage will provide opportunities to bring usage in-line with expectations or bring provision in-line with demand.
One way or another, meeting space will be better optimized and cost-opportunities will arise.