Money is probably the main reason why you are reading this article. It’s also why organizations should concern themselves with how their meeting rooms are being used, as they can potentially free up thousands of euros in their budget.
But before we start calculating how much empty meetings cost you, let’s take a moment to talk about the worst reason for unoccupied meeting rooms – ghost meetings.
Ghost meetings are a situation that occurs when a meeting room is booked digitally in the meeting room booking software but remains physically unoccupied.
This is usually the result of a meeting cancellation or a meeting that is moved but the change isn’t registered in the meeting room booking software.
The reason ghost meetings are an issue for organizations, and by extension facility managers, is because the meeting room appears booked for everyone in the organization while it is in fact unused.
While this may not seem too bad in the big scheme of things, this often leads to the conclusion that more meeting rooms are required. Which in turn increases the issue of unoccupied meeting rooms burning their way through the budget.
Calculating how much your organization spends on unused meeting rooms is as simple as multiplying the price per square meter of your buildings with the square footage of your meeting rooms and then dividing the result by your meeting room utilization rate.
Right about now, you might be asking yourself if the amount of money spent on unoccupied meeting rooms is actually that big.
So, let’s run the numbers.
In Europe, the average price on office space is 520 euros per square meter annually, with the average price in the UK three times as high. 
This may not seem like such a big number at first, especially when it comes to corporate budgets. But let’s try to run a calculation against the average organization.
An average meeting room for 4-6 people is sized around 25 square meters. And most organizations aim to have one meeting room per 10 employees. Add to that, that most organizations look at a meeting room utilization rate of around 25 percent.
This means that an organization with 250 employees may be spending as much as 240.000 euros on empty meeting rooms each year. And that’s before factoring in the cost of utilities related to those rooms.
What you need to ask in addition to this is, how much of the money you spend on empty meeting rooms, are going towards ghost meetings?
Thanks to video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meets, it is just as easy to carry out a meeting online as it is to do it in person.
But the issue isn’t that we’ve begun scheduling digital meetings. After all, you could simply reduce the office space allocated for meeting rooms to match the number of meeting rooms you need.
The issue here is meetings that are scheduled to take place in person but end up being carried out remotely. This potentially results in either a half-empty meeting room, because half the participants decided to join remotely instead, or it turns into a ghost meeting.
So, how do we avoid this?
All is not lost if ghost meetings and unoccupied meeting rooms are eating away at your budget. We have collected the four best ways to avoid empty meeting rooms right here.
While most of them can be carried out without investing anything other than your time, implementing a dedicated meeting room booking software does make this process easier.
The first thing you should do when you set out to reduce the number of ghost meetings in your office is to establish a policy on booking meeting rooms.
Which meeting rooms are available for what type of meetings, what is the cancellation policy for your organization, and what is the procedure for spontaneously using an unoccupied meeting room?
After you implement a policy, make sure everyone in your organization has access to it. And remember to revise it regularly.
While not strictly necessary there are different technological aids, that can help improve your meeting room utilization.
Meeting room display screens help visualize which rooms are booked and may even provide the opportunity to quick book rooms from the screen, and occupancy sensors let you know how many people are in a meeting room regardless of how many people were invited to the meeting.
At the same time, both solution types will often have the capability to release rooms that are booked no one shows up for the meeting. This will allow others to book the meeting room albeit on short notice.
Knowing how your meeting rooms are being used is probably the most important factor when it comes to optimizing meeting room usage.
One way to find out how rooms are being used is to carry out sample visits. Simply pop in on different meetings to learn how your rooms are being used.
However, these days it is much easier to have sensors installed in one or more rooms, as this will provide you with much more detailed information without disrupting the meetings in your organization.
One of the hardest issues to combat when it comes to optimizing spend on meeting rooms is employees booking large meeting rooms for small meetings.
No matter which tools or policies you implement, this issue isn’t going away unless you change the room booking habits of the people in your organization.
And the only surefire way to really alleviate this issue is to make sure you have the right mix of rooms.
Facility managers are perfectly positioned to impact the profitability of an organization