Meeting room mayhem in the public sector

Government departments are needlessly frittering away millions of pounds each year through meeting room mismanagement, according to Paul Statham, managing director at RNM Systems/CondecoMeeting room culture
When it comes to implementing new ways of working, the office meeting room rarely comes into conversation. However, with one county council recently claiming that it had spent over £250K a year on hiring external meeting room venues, this is clearly an area of high wastage that many public sector organisations should be addressing in order to cut costs.

In the private sector, most companies have slashed corporate travel budgets and returned to a culture of in-house meetings, as a direct product of the recession. The meeting room has once again become an intrinsic hub in the workplace. Businesses have started to invest more in these communal office areas, spending heavily on video conferencing equipment, cutting-edge digital signage, WiFi access and room booking software, in order to boost efficiency and create a strong impression for clients and customers.

Poorly managed meeting rooms
Whilst the business drivers and requirements of the public sector may differ dramatically, essentially the cost saving rationale is still the same. Poorly managed meeting rooms can be a major drain on resources and budgets. Many government departments tend to outsource these facilities, and those that don’t, often expand their meeting room capacity, taking on valuable office space on the false perception that they are utilising their meeting rooms to the maximum.

In reality, occupancy of meeting rooms in the public sector is at approximately 60%. Large rooms are booked for small meetings and there is always high demand for meetings during peak hours, adding to the perception that meeting rooms are always occupied. Up to 40% of booked rooms can be affected by ‘no shows’, meaning that a room will appear to be booked, audiovisual equipment and catering will be ordered and the facilities will not be used. By managing this area more effectively, organisations would not need to squander money on outsourcing, expanding real estate and wasted catering.

Smart meeting rooms
RNM Systems/Condeco works with public sector organisations to help them optimise meeting room occupancy. By using tools, such as workplace management suite, Condeco, organisations can conduct workplace surveys to audit meeting room utilisation. This will expose areas of under-utilisation and show where an organisation could increase and improve meeting room usage. More often than not, these surveys will uncover vast under-utilisation and highlight the need for smarter meeting room management.

By implementing a real time room-booking tool along with the latest in touch screen digital signage, organisations can enable employees to cross reference and book, order necessary audiovisual equipment and catering facilities and cancel or postpone meeting rooms from an easy-to-use platform, like the company Intranet or Outlook. This will drastically reduce the running costs incurred through meeting rooms and paper-based room booking systems and help to cut under-utilisation.

Condeco Screens are a real innovation in meeting room technology. The screens can either stand alone or work in conjunction with Condeco’s room booking system to display meeting details in front of each room. Employees can check-in and out of the meeting room before and after a meeting and if nobody attends the meeting, the room will be released and considered empty, allowing others to take full advantage. The screens can also enable RFID swipe card functionality to ensure the correct person who booked the room checks in. They have LED lights as standard to visually show if the room is occupied (red), free (green) or if there is a scheduled meeting (amber). The screens help to eliminate meeting conflicts whilst enhancing utilisation and reducing “no shows”.

Condeco is providing a large number of central and local government departments with the capacity to raise their meeting room utilisation and save money that is wasted through low occupancy levels, outsourced meeting spaces and real estate costs.

Public sector Condeco users
Some of the central and local government departments using Condeco: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Barnsley PCT, Camden PCT, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Cornwall County Council, Ofsted, County Durham NHS, The Insolvency Service, Ministry of Defence (MOD), Hampshire County Council, Tower Hamlets, Financial Service Authority (FSA) and many more. To see the full client list, visit www.condeco.co.uk

About Condeco
RNM Systems is a specialist in workspace management. Its Condeco software suite provides public sector organisations with the ability to manage office space with ease and fluidity. Condeco was awarded the best technology product 2008 at the BIFM annual awards.

Case Study - Central Office of Information (COI)
One organisation leading the way with technology is the Central Office of Information. COI has recently installed Condeco along with Condeco meeting room touch screens in order to more effectively manage their meeting room space. The project was implemented alongside a conference suite refurbishment and AV overhaul. RNM Systems worked with Cable Television Services to implement a complete solution for COI that not only compliments the professional look and feel, but demonstrates the companies commitment in using technology to support more efficient working practices and cost savings.