Have you ever reserved a space for a meeting only to arrive and find it utterly trashed?
Or have you ever scheduled a room only to find that the people who scheduled it for the timeslot before you are 10 minutes late getting out? (And the people who scheduled after you are 10 minutes early getting there?)
Whether you are a business professional operating out of a co-working space or a teacher whose class needs access to a computer lab, we have all experienced the pain that comes with reserving shared space.
It’s about time that room reservations gets some etiquette & best practice guidelines. Try implementing the tips below before you let tenants or staff book up rooms and no one take responsibility for the mess they make.
Tip 1. Post a general sign about room reservation rules
This seems pretty simple, but it’s worth mentioning for how many times it gets overlooked. The majority of the times when there is a problem with a room reservation, the problem stems from poor communication.
Posting an easily visible “Rules from the Meeting Room Manager” sign in each of the rooms you have available for reservation is a must to avoid the “We didn’t know!” sort of comments. In fact, post 2 or 3 of them: one on the door walking in, one on a prominent place on the wall, and one flat on the center table.
Just because it’s a list of no-nos doesn’t mean it has to sound like a cautious prude wrote it though. Have some fun with the rules you put down (the bonus here is more people are likely to read it).
Instead of saying “All parties are required to put all trash in provided receptacles at the end of their reservation time,” try something with a bit of personality.
You could say, “Your mom doesn’t work here, and even if she did, we bet she would stand behind us saying we expect you to throw all your trash away before you leave.”
Saying “Room furniture must be returned to its original position once you finish with your reservation,” sounds stuffy and like you’re already scolding the people who used the room scheduler.
Replace that with “We know you think the way you move the furniture around has a lot more feng shui than what we’ve come up with (and it may, we’re not feng shui consultants), but we do like the way the furniture was originally arranged so be a doll and move it back in place when you finish.”
Just having a sign is a step in the right direction, but having a sign that people will actually want to read is a giant leap for all the meeting room managers out there.
Tip 2. Send the person who reserved the room text reminders that their timeslot is almost up
When was the last time you were anywhere and people didn’t have their cell phones within reach? To keep people from going over their allotted time, give them a non-intrusive reminder that their reservation is almost up.
Using room scheduling software, you can set up text reminders to go to people at a certain amount of time before their scheduled time. You can also use third party services to send text reminders once their scheduled time has started to give them notice that they’ve only got 10 minutes remaining.
This is much less intrusive than a person poking their head into the room and saying, “Just wanted to let you know you’ve only got 10 minutes left.” You could make the argument that if a person pops in and says that then everyone in the room knows and is on the same page. Personally, however, I think it’s best to let the person who reserved the space call the shots on getting everybody out of there.
Just as you should be wary of your word choice in your rules sign for the meeting room manager, you should also be cautious of the words you use in the text message alerts.
Since text messages are, by nature, supposed to be short, they can sometimes come out terse. Be mindful of how you sound when sending a reminder message. The person in the room is probably somewhat aware that their time is close to an end and sending a message that makes it sound like you’re rushing them out of there could potentially upset them.
Keep the reminder short but make sure it comes off sounding sweet instead of brash. Instead of saying “Your scheduled time in the meeting room is over in 10 minutes,” throw in something to let them know your tone of voice like, “Just a friendly reminder that you have 10 minutes remaining in the meeting room.”
Heck, you could even throw in an emoticon :-)
Tip 3. Use Room Scheduling Software to handle the brunt of the work
Between the number of people emailing or calling you to reserve the room and the people who may be complaining about the conditions of the room, being the master Meeting Room Manager can be a royal pain.
Setting up an online room scheduler will let people manage their own reservations for the room plus potentially pay for the time they have the meeting room upfront (if you charge for the room reservation).
As they are reserving the room online, you can go ahead and have them agree to the guidelines for using the room using a yes/no checkbox on the confirmation screen. After that they’ll get a confirmation email that states that they’ve agreed to your policies.
This will also go ahead and set up the reminders to the party booking about their upcoming reservation. Go ahead and add the “Rules for the Meeting Room Manager” to the reminder email so that they have one more opportunity to be made aware of the expectations you have.
Tip 4. Add buffers to your Room Scheduler between reservations
Using an online room scheduler as a meeting room manager for the shared spaces in your building has a ton of benefits.
Besides just being able to handle reservations and send reminders, another one of those benefits is that you can add padding between when the room can be reserved. This way if someone books from 8:00am-9:00am, the next group wouldn’t be able to reserve the room until 9:10am (or whatever amount of time you set as the buffer).
This can decrease the chances that two parties (a) book right on top of one another and thus (b) get frustrated with the receptionist (or whoever they think should be handling the reservations) that the last party wasn’t out on time.
It’ll also give a person associated with the building some time to run into the room and check to make sure that the previous party followed all room reservation guidelines. If they didn’t, you can gently remind them of the guidelines they missed in the Room Reservation Completed email you send out with the room scheduling software you have set up to manage your meeting rooms.
Take these 4 tips and start improving the etiquette in the shared spaces that need to be reserved in your business, school, or building. It’ll make everyone who has to use those spaces a bit happier and give the people in charge of managing the spaces a bit less work.
Have you put any guidelines or rules in place for the shared spaces in your building? How have the people using the space reacted? Let us know in the comments below!