Are You More Important Than Your Colleagues?Posted: April 29, 2019
Do you tell your colleagues that you are more important than they are – or more specifically, that your time is more important than theirs? While I bet most of you would respond that you would never say such a thing, I also bet most of you have done something in the past month to deliver that exact message. What did you do? You overstayed your assigned time in a conference room and passed the next group that was supposed to be in there five minutes ago as you walked out the door. By not allowing the next group to start on time, you made it loud and clear that your time was more important than the time of those who were waiting to start their meeting.
Even if you’re fortunate enough not to work in the latest fad of open office environments, offices are getting smaller and smaller, so more and more meetings are moving from offices to conference rooms, even meetings with only two or three people. Scheduling apps make the process of reserving a conference room easy, but the apps also allow meetings to be scheduled one next to another. Scheduling meetings one after another maximizes use of the available space, but it also sets up the proverbial dominos. If an early meeting runs late, then the next meeting runs a little later and before you know it, people are waiting five minutes, 10 minutes or even longer to start the next meeting.
The passive/aggressive among us (see my hand being raised) try to “fix” the problem by scheduling the start of our conference room reservation 15 minutes before the meeting begins and the “considerate” might schedule the reservation to end 15 minutes after the meeting is supposed to end. In some ways that makes sense, like the time we had to get between classes when we went to school. Schools recognize that you can’t start the next class one second after the last one ended. The problem is that the scheduling creates gaps throughout the day where valuable space is not used.
Real estate consulting types then come in, look at conference room usage and say: “Look at all the times conference rooms are not being used. You could save real money by reducing the number of conference rooms and, therefore, the amount of leased space you occupy.” Such a reaction becomes a death spiral to conference room availability and usage.
It seems the real solution is to respect your colleagues’ time, end your meeting on time and vacate the conference room when you’re supposed to. Of course, asking for such a level of respect in a society when its OK to take out your phone and tell the person you’re eating with they’re boring and you would rather spend your time with this shiny device may be hoping for too much, but that’s probably a whole different blog. How does your office solve the conference room conundrum?