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Conference Room Scheduling

What You Need To Know About Conference Room Schedulers

Conference Room Scheduling technology is impacting office spaces around the country. With growing emphasis on room analytics, Facility and IT managers are turning to scheduling panels.

  • Effectively use meeting space
  • Encourage collaboration in open office environments
  • Integrate scheduling with Microsoft Exchange®, Office 365®, Google® Calendar™, and more

Crestron room avialability sign inhallway

Conference Room Schedulers – The Basics

Conference room scheduling technology is at the intersection of hardware and software. The hardware includes room scheduling panels and hallway signs while the software connects to business calendars and offers room analytics.

Conference room scheduling panels feature a touch panel that sits outside the conference room. They either mount on the glass or in the wall. Passerby’s can see when the room is scheduled, what it’s scheduled for, and who’s invited to the meeting.

Hallway signs like, Crestron’s Room Availability Signs, have also found their place in workplace technology. The light shines red or green depending on the status of the room. A quick glance down the hall tells employees what’s available.

An important piece to conference room schedulers is integration with calendars. Systems integrate with the platforms your business already uses (Outlook, Office 365, Google Calendar and more so employees don’t have to learn a new system. They invite a room to the meeting the same way they’d invite a colleague.

Meeting room schedulers offer an impromptu meeting management tool. Employees can move a conversation from an open off space into a huddle room. They look at the panel, ensure it’s available, and add their meeting to the calendar with the touch of a button. Analytics update to include the new meeting, and the room’s status changes to unavailable.

Why use Room Schedulers?

Facilities managers (and in some cases IT managers) need to understand room analytics to begin identifying the ROI on spaces. Scheduling panels and scheduling panel software provide data to determine what meeting spaces are most often used and how effectively they’re used.

Technology Driven Efficiency

Meeting room use is key for effective planning in the work place. Room Schedulers can help determine how to use your space efficiently or influence designs for a new office by answering questions like:

  • Which types of spaces are most often scheduled?
  • Are they getting used when they’re scheduled?
  • Are they utilized for their intended purpose?

Which types of spaces are most often scheduled?

Conference room scheduler in conference room

With scheduling software, like Crestron Fusion® teams can view a dashboard with data around room usage.  These meeting analytics answer questions like:

  • How many hours were the rooms reserved?
  • Average length of scheduled meeting?
  • How many meetings are held at particular times of the day?
  • Who most frequently schedules meetings in specific rooms?
  • What meeting organizers hold the longest meeting on average?

What happens when someone schedules a meeting and no one attends?

Room schedulers can account for off-calendar cancellations. That way an empty room isn’t unavailable for an hour when there’s no meeting. Internal proximity beacons or occupancy sensors identify when people are occupying the room.

Proximity beacons use Bluetooth and an app on the users device to confirm when a person has arrived at the room. Occupancy sensors collect data around movement inside the room. Some systems collect inferential data to show trends in scheduling vs. occupancy. For example, how often people schedule rooms but do not use them.

Scheduling systems can automatically cancel a meeting if the beacon or sensor are not triggered. The solution will then release the room, showing it as available for others to use. For example, if no one shows up for a 9:00 meeting, the room can change to available at a preset time, say 9:10. Other employees can then hold an impromptu meeting during the available 50 minutes.

Are your rooms getting used for their intended purpose?

The large conference room. Dual displays, integrated video, sound and room controls at the touch of a button. It’s the conference room version of first-class on an airplane, and it’s usually in high-demand.

What about the person that always books the large conference rooms for small meetings? While not necessarily a bad thing, it can put a wrench in the flow when bigger groups need the space.

In this case, the bigger group has two options: postpone their meeting or bump the small group out of the space.

If postponing isn’t an option, someone awkwardly pops their head into the room, interrupts the small meeting and ask them to move. Even if the small meeting is important, getting booted out of a space can create a weird dynamic in the office.

Scheduling panels can help avoid this. IT can set parameters for minimum capacity in each conference room. If the conference room holds 8–12 attendees, the parameters can be set to ensure only meetings with 7+ attendees can schedule the room.

Changing rooms on the fly

Employees can also change room bookings through the scheduling panel. The panel displays what other meeting rooms are available at any given time. If a meeting runs late, participants from the next meeting can make a quick adapt to stay on schedule.

Here’s how it works. Jan has a 2:00 brainstorm meeting scheduled. Unfortunately, the 1:00 strategy session is going late. Instead of interrupting the meeting, Jan looks at the scheduling panel to see the other available meeting rooms.

From a technology perspective, she only needs an interactive display for her brainstorm. The panel shows a medium conference room that’s available and has the right technology. It’s on a different floor, so she reserves it at the touch of a button from the panel.

Scheduling panels enable employees to be agile and focus on getting work done even with calendar conflicts. 

Find the right meeting the first time

Sometimes people run late for a meeting. It happens. What doesn’t have to happen is the guessing game to find the right meeting room.

Scheduling panels reduce the guessing game frenzy. Instead, a late attendee:

  1. Walks up to the scheduler that shows meeting in progress
  2. See what the meeting topic is
  3. Views the names of the invited attendees
  4. Enters the right room on the first try

Hardware: Tablets vs. Pro AV Schedulers

Some companies consider a quasi-DIY approach with scheduling software. Instead of a commercial solution, they use a tablet as the scheduling panel on the outside of the room. This works for some companies, but there’s a trade-off of stability and lifespan for price.

Crestron, Extron and other Pro-AV brands design scheduling panels for the extreme use of a business environment. The hardware can be on for 10+ hours, day after day.

Consumer tablets don’t fare as well in this kind of environment. Because tablets run out of battery quickly, they’re usually plugged in 24/7 when used as schedulers. This can cause the battery to expand and overheat. The tablet path can be a better alternative than no scheduling technology. But, it’s important to understand you’ll likely sacrifice longevity as tablets tend to have a short lifespan when used in a scheduling environment.

Value of Room Schedulers: Final Thoughts

Room schedulers empower facility managers to plan future utilization. They’re also an important tool to help employees use rooms effectively.

For facility manager, the analytics provided by professional room schedulers helps you plan for future expansion. They provide critical data around how often spaces are scheduled. In addition, schedulers offer data around technology-driven environments, and utilization of scheduled rooms.

For employees, room schedulers can make their day more efficient with less friction. We always say the technology shouldn’t be the focus. It should seamlessly support your business operations by fitting into your company’s flow. Scheduling panels do just that.

If you’re in the Northwest and want more information on scheduling panels, let us know!

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