New Meeting Rooms – You Built it and They Don’t Come
You’ve just made a significant investment in new meeting spaces with technology that enables local and remote collaboration. You had ambitious goals to have users in all the spaces, increasing the number of team meetings, connecting more with remote colleagues, and generating new levels of productivity. After a while, you notice that the occupancy of the rooms isn’t what you expected. The amount of feedback and issues with the spaces had increased initially, but now issues have stabilized while usage has dropped off dramatically. What could have happened?
When meeting room usage is in decline, you need to know why users are staying away. Typically the technology in the room is blamed. If more calls about issues with the technology are coming in, you will have an idea of what the issues are. If people are just avoiding the spaces, direct feedback from users through discussions and surveys should get you a list of reasons. Some of the problems may include:
Technology failing frequently
- The quality of the technology used isn’t keeping up with the needs. In many cases, consumer-grade technology is used. While the initial costs are attractive, when this level of equipment is installed in meeting rooms, users can find that the systems are not sufficient for their use cases.
- The individual components work fine but the integrated system doesn’t seem to work. The quality of the installation could be something to consider. Is the system optimized to work well together? Are the components configured properly? Are the connections good? Is the equipment overheating?
- Users can’t count on the reliability of connections with remote participants and find quality issues with teleconferencing. Was the proper design and thought put into the audio needs for remote collaboration? Were the IT aspects of the room considered? Did equipment get added in the room that limits performance?
Users are frustrated with their experience
- Is the space easy to schedule?
- Is usage intuitive and simple?
- What level of training were users provided when the rooms opened? Are there any easy reminders on the use of the system?
- Do they receive retraining or brief instructions after experiencing a problem?
- If the room has a control interface of some kind, what input was gathered from users to inform the designers? How many steps does it take to enable common meeting tasks? (eg. system on, display on the screen, etc.)
- They do not have easy access to commonly used features.
- They cannot view certain sources on some displays?
- If a meeting is disrupted, is it obvious how to ask for help? How to move to another space? Can spaces be readily rescheduled?
- Is there a closed-loop communication system to tell users what was resolved after they experience an issue?
The technology doesn’t suit the purpose of the room
- Does the positioning of the technology match the scale and format of the room?
- Do the audio capabilities support the number and location of participants?
- Are the displays in the room suitable for the space? The size or resolution may not be adequate for the meeting space and audience size.
- Due to the chosen technology and its locations, there might be high ambient and electronic noise, especially during teleconferencing calls.
A list of problems can also be looked at as an actionable list of possible improvements. Root cause analysis can get to the necessary changes. Performing root cause analysis on AV requires both technical and workflow understanding.
If your users are plagued by recurring problems that aren’t getting fixed, consider your support process, as well as the number and skill set of your support technicians. Are you able to keep meetings going or have they had to be canceled because of the ‘technology’? How often are the rooms left idle waiting for second or third visits as issues are escalated to more experienced technicians in order to solve the problem? Does the problem get solved? Do your users continue to schedule ‘broken’ rooms? If you have a chronic issue with meeting rooms, check out our ‘Fix it or it’s Free’ support offer.
The utilization and performance of your meeting rooms can be brought up to desirable levels. Root cause analysis should be performed on the technology. Any repairs or recommendations would be based on those findings and presented accordingly. If the issues are deeper than the technology, analysis of the user experiences should be performed to streamline training and identify areas for improvement.
You know that when you build it, they will come. To ensure they keep coming back, take a proactive approach when you start meeting spaces. Early consultation into the user experience, stakeholder objectives, and facility design can lead to highly utilized meeting rooms. Including your AV integrator in the planning process, as part of the contract team, will enable an informed build-out, avoid technology installation delays, and ensure high end-user satisfaction and room utilization rates. Knowing your spaces will be well used, develop your support model and feedback system to keep up with needed changes. Your users will thank you.