Easy Booking is a feature of Empathic Building smart office solution that makes the booking of meeting rooms, phone booths and other working areas easy and flexible. In this article Tomi Teikko, head of Empathic Building, tells why Easy Booking was created and how it works.
Booking meeting rooms is a waste of time
About 5 years ago I gave my first public speech as the head of the Intelligent Buildings department at REWORK event about the future of work and workspaces. Along with that I also wrote my very first blog article (article in Finnish). In that article, I made a radical statement that booking meeting rooms should be made illegal. Now, five years later, I have taken a couple of steps back, but my initial statement holds true: booking meeting rooms is a gamble that wastes the important time of employees and makes the efficient use of office space impossible.
First of all, knowing how many people are actually physically attending a meeting is nowadays guesswork at best. You’re probably going to end up booking a room that is way too big for your needs, and as a result, taking that room away from a larger group that might have needed the space.
Second, another guessing game starts with estimating how long your meeting is going to last. We’ve all been there: you check your office booking system and see that the room you need is booked for two hours but as you walk past the room, it’s empty! Now you’re wondering if you can use the space after all. If you track down the people in the meeting, you’re most likely to hear that the meeting ended after 20 minutes, but the room is left booked for the entire 2 hours.
Booking systems don’t work!
My third point was already covered in the second point, and in the title of this chapter: booking systems don’t work. Nobody wants to spend their work time trying to use the booking systems that never seem to show you the right information, only give you a partial view of the available spaces and are hard to figure out.
Best practices in room booking
As I said before, I have taken a step back from completely removing all room booking from modern offices, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. This is why we have created Easy Booking for Empathic Building. As always, our aim was to create the best possible end-user experience and with Easy Booking, it means less time-consuming admin work with irritating booking systems, more available meeting rooms and better visibility to all available spaces in the office.
Here I listed my the best practices for any room booking, offered by Empathic Building Easy Booking:
Small rooms and phone booths of 1-2 people
Some tasks and meetings require a private and quiet place: a confidential one to one with your boss or a phone call is always better to take to a small meeting room or a phone booth. Often, these meetings are not planned beforehand, so ad-hoc booking works best.
How it works
Ad-hoc room booking works with Thingsee PRESENCE occupancy IoT sensors that are installed in the room and detect people presence in next to real-time. This sensor is wireless and has years of battery life. It comes to our customer preconfigured and ready to use, so once it’s installed, you don’t have to worry about for a long time!
With Empathic Building, you book a room by simply walking. The sensor device detects the people presence and the rooms will show as ‘reserved’ in your digital twin. When you’re done, you free the room just by walking out. No need for booking systems!
Medium-sized rooms for 5-10 people
In the next category, we have medium-sized meeting rooms. For these, I recommend pre-booking! With Empathic Building Easy booking, you’ll have a view of all the rooms in your office at the digital twin, and from there, with just one click, you can see the availability of all rooms and book a space that fits your requirements. This can be done on the go, i.e. book the second you need it, or in the more traditional way: book them in advance.
How it works
This feature will remove the need for all the dedicated door post info screens that are often used for booking meeting rooms. They are expensive to acquire and also costly to uphold. With Empathic Building Easy Booking, the booking happens in your application on the desktop, mobile or on the info screen in the office.
Again, the check-in and check-out to the rooms work automatically with the Thingsee PRESENCE sensor device.
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Larger event rooms for more than 10 people
Finally, we have larger rooms that are meant for more than 10 people. These are actually more like event rooms than regular meeting rooms.
If you have a special seminar, training or guests coming, you usually want some catering and other services in your meeting. We live in the golden age of different kinds of portals, and we’re used to booking all services our selves starting from hairdresser appointment to hotels room. Nevertheless, when the options for services are vast, booking can become a nightmare. This is why I say ‘Bye’ to the complex booking system and bring back the people!
I recommend changing the booking of event rooms to be the campus site or facility management professionals. After all, they are the experts of event planning and know exactly what is needed for a successful seminar. In addition, they know how to work the more complex booking system that has all services in one place.
How it works
These event room booking systems can be easily integrated into the Empathic Building system. From there, all the billing and services come to you easily and you’ll know your event will go smoothly as it’s organized by professionals.
Better usage of your spaces
When we looked at booking data and compared it to the actual usage of the meeting rooms, we noticed that pre-booking the rooms resulted in unnecessary reservations most often. With Easy Booking there will no longer be unnecessary bookings in your spaces as you will always have real-time information on the room availability. This way, you will maximise the usage of your office space.
Empathic Building also gives extremely valid data on the space usage and utilization rates of your office, by showing you usage peaks, and which rooms are used most often or not at all. This information is intricately important when making decisions over how to use your office space in the future. You will also know if you need more phone booths or large meeting rooms.
Best Employee Experience with Easy Booking
Empathic Building digital twin is at the very core of employee experience. It gathers all the needed information into one place, all the way from available rooms and desks to service reports and people’s own thoughts. Empathic Building saves your employee’s time, helps them work more productively, aids collaboration, increases transparency and helps you use your office spaces more efficiently.
So, let’s revolutionize your meeting rooms with Empathic Building Easy Booking!