The Six Pillars of Conference Room Etiquette
By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
Conference rooms have always been and will continue to be an important part of the workplace. When people need a place to meet privately in groups, conference rooms let them close the door and get down to business without disruption. What makes these spaces so effective is that they’re governed by universally understood pillars of conference room etiquette. People respect conference rooms for what they are.
Conference rooms transcend the many evolutions of the office environment. Today, they’re still an asset alongside new concepts like agile workspaces and activity-based work areas. The problem is, these new spaces follow different rules than traditional conference rooms. There’s still high demand for closed meeting rooms, but they’ll only continue to be useful if employees continue to adhere to conference room etiquette.
Here’s a quick refresher on the do and don'ts for meeting room governance. Make sure these six pillars are universally understood (and followed) by employees.
1. Book the room in advance
Unlike an agile space that groups might flex into and out of freely, conference rooms need to be booked. Just because the room is empty doesn’t mean it’s not spoken for. Employees need to remember that conference spaces are more formal and there’s an orderly process for reserving them.
Teach employees to book conference rooms as far in advance as possible. It’s considered good etiquette to book a day or more in advance if possible. For last minute bookings, encourage reserving a few hours in advance. Advance booking keeps everyone in the loop—especially someone eyeing conference time, who may not yet know the logistics of their meeting nailed down enough to book.
2. Be on time and leave on time
Conference room rules only work if people are punctual. If you book a conference space for 2 p.m., make sure you’re there within five to 10 minutes on either side of the reservation. Arriving early might mean waiting outside for a previous group to finish and it’s always good to build in a buffer of a few minutes to accommodate people coming from across campus or another scheduled event.
As important as arriving on time is, leaving when your time is up is even more important. Even if there’s no reservation right after your time, someone might still need that space. Wrap up your meeting quickly or flex into a breakout space to finish.
3. Don’t double book
Not sure which conference room you’ll need or what time works best for your group? It might be tempting to double book spaces or time slots, but this goes against good conference room etiquette. Every reservation should be respected, which means other groups won’t book over you. But that respect should go both ways! Don’t take time or space away from those who need it. Wait to book a room until the details are set, or book a space that works for most and encourage the rest to finesse their schedules.
4. Cancel at the earliest possible time
If you book a conference room and your meeting plan falls apart, canceling your reservation is the courteous option. It’ll free up the space and time for another group to book should they need it. While cancellations aren’t great—since the room will have been effectively unavailable while booked—it’s better than keeping the reservation and letting the space go unused. Cancel at the earliest possible time to give others more of an opportunity to book that space.
5. Keep it clean and orderly
Meetings can entail all manner of activities. Presentations, handouts, whiteboarding, and project prep can result in materials sprawled out across the room. A conference lunch-and-learn can be even messier, with food, paper products, and utensils mixed into the fray. Meeting room etiquette dictates that before you leave the room, pick up your garbage. Do a hard reset for the next group to use the space, so they find it as clean as you did (if not cleaner).
6. Utilize conference rooms properly
More than taking the time to reserve a conference room and sticking to that schedule, make sure employees aren’t monopolizing these spaces. It’s okay to have a standing weekly meeting or to consistently use these rooms for group planning. It’s not okay to book the same room back-to-back-to-back for an entire afternoon, except in extreme cases. Employees should also avoid using conference rooms for solo projects or other types of work that could be done in other spaces.
Meeting rooms may be less agile than other modern workspaces, but they’re as important as they’ve ever been for private, closed-door meetings. They definitely deserve a place in today’s fast-paced offices, but they follow a different set of rules than many younger employees may be used to. Follow these six standards for meeting rooms and they’ll continue to be an asset in your workplace, no matter how they’re structured.
Keep reading: Eight Conference Room Naming Ideas