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The Value of Resource Booking

modern workspace real estate Workspace data and technology

In the previous article, we have seen how indoor wayfinding technologies enable sustainable hot desking and deliver delightful user experiences.

This article illustrates the benefits of enabling resource booking across workspaces—a perfect complement of wayfinding that may deliver considerable value, especially when coupled with occupancy data.

The Curse of No-Show and Ghost Meetings

Traditionally, booking has always been associated with planning. You schedule a meeting, assign a room to it, the room calendar gets populated with your invitation, making the room unavailable to others for the duration of your planned usage. Most of the time, users voluntarily decide to reserve a room for a future meeting; sometimes, the booking may happen on the fly to support an impromptu gathering.

Almost all traditional enterprise workplaces with cubicles, assigned desks, and bookable rooms have encountered the same inefficiencies related to the booking. The most impactful manifestations of those inefficiencies are two common problems that I am sure nearly every reader of this article has experienced:

  • No-Show Meetings

Somebody has booked a room but, when the meeting starts, the room is empty. The reason may vary significantly and span from a last-second change of plans to local participants working from home that day.

  • Ghost Meetings

These are apparently legitimate reoccurring meetings involving a room; the problem is they never take place and the room shows up as unavailable. Let’s say Team X used to meet in room Y to talk about Project Z. Every X team member had a Project Z meeting invitation in their calendar, scheduled to reoccur every week for 12 months, with room Y as a resource. After 2 months from its beginning, Project Z gets deprioritized, and the X Team members are assigned to other projects. Contextually, the meeting organizer, one of the team members, decides to leave the company and turns-in his laptop. The X Team members delete the Project Z reoccurring appointment in their calendar, but the meeting still exists in the backend and there’s no way for IT to detect it easily.

Although No-Show and Ghost meetings may appear as small inconveniences when instantiated on a large scale, they may have considerable negative repercussions for both Real Estate Planners and end-users:

  • Real Estate Planners

They need to optimize the trade-off between the productivity of the workplace and facility cost. Frequent untraceable No-Show and Ghost meetings in a large campus distort the Planner’s view of room occupancy, making it impossible to reduce the number of rooms based on actual occupancy/utilization rate.

  • End Users

No-Show and Ghost Meetings are a source of frustration for the end-users, who are forced to book resources far from their desks; they see empty rooms when they walk towards their destination. This translates into lower worker satisfaction and more unproductive time spent looking for or reaching a room.   

Complementing Booking with Physical Occupancy

No-Show and Ghost Meetings may be resolved by complementing the booking platform with resource occupancy data. A typical scenario consists of implementing a timeout; if physical occupancy is not detected in a booked resource for a certain period, the resource is automatically released and put back in the pool of available ones. For Ghost Meetings, additional logic may be added, leveraging on historical data: if a reoccurring meeting has consecutive no-show events, it may be flagged as Ghost, reported to the IT Admin and/or automatically fixed by removing the booking series.

In order to implement the above logic, companies should choose the right vendor, best if the latter can provide an integrated solution that minimizes the IT involvement, while reusing existing infrastructure and collaboration devices with sensing capabilities.

Booking Evolving Needs

With workplace transformation trends shifting towards Activity-Based Work, enabled by mobile technologies and fueled by remarkable facility savings, new workflows emerge, and worker needs evolve accordingly. To be fulfilled, new user needs require new collaboration technologies, and the latter must implement intelligent booking experiences to maximize efficiencies and minimize friction.

What does an intelligent booking experience look like?

Here are some examples:

  • Escalating a call from desk to room

The user answers a call through the collaboration mobile app and soon realizes the discussion requires a higher privacy level. As soon as he/she stands up, the mobile app shows the Indoor Map in navigation mode, guiding the user towards the nearest available room, which, in the meantime, has been put on hold (unbookable by others). When the user arrives and physical presence is detected in the destination room, his/her call is automatically handed over to the video device, and the room changes status to booked (occupied).

  • Hot Desk Check-In/Check-Out

The user arrives at the office, opens the wayfinding app that suggests the best available desk based on user preferences and team location. After the user chooses the resource, the latter gets put on hold automatically, and the wayfinding application guides him/her to the destination; once at the desk, the mobile phone pairs with the workstation that gets personalized based on the user identity; at that point, the real booking may happen automatically.
When the user has finished using the desk, he/she collects his/her belongings and leaves. After detecting the workers departure, the desk is disassociated from the user and automatically put in the pool of available resources.

  • Impromptu Meeting

Two workers initiate a discussion in the hallway and decide to step into the nearest empty room for an impromptu whiteboarding session. Once inside, their presence is detected, and the room becomes unavailable for the duration of their session or until they get notified of an upcoming meeting previously scheduled by others in the same room.

The three examples we have just seen have in common a certain level of context awareness provided by the combination of resource physical occupancy, device user detection, user indoor location and user calendar. The richer the set of context data, the more intelligent the use cases, the higher the achievable productivity level.

The workplace management solution constitutes the backbone around which intelligent workplace use cases may be built, leveraging on the integration with collaboration technologies and mobile devices. A good amount of the context-aware high-value use cases leverage on various forms of booking: voluntary, automated, temporary, planned, and more. An emerging workflow might require a different booking nuance, and a well-designed workplace management technology should offer enough flexibility to accommodate for new forms of booking.

Stay tuned for the next article, which will focus on the traits of the ideal workplace management solution.

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