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Law Technology Today


Challenges in Meeting Room Management After Returning to the Office

Micah Remley


  • Hybrid work is changing the way law offices function.
  • Meeting rooms are of increased value because of the remote/in-office mix.
  • Building a meeting room strategy that works for employees in the office and at home is critical for workplace management.
Challenges in Meeting Room Management After Returning to the Office

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Your office is beginning to look normal again. The desks and meeting rooms that were barren a couple of years ago have occupants now - perhaps not every day, but more frequently as the legal sector leans into flexible work.

According to Robin’s proprietary data, 45 percent of employees at law firms and legal service companies are moving to a flexible work schedule, up from 32 percent in 2022. The percentage of remote work has shrunk from 65 to 43 percent in that time, and more than 10 percent of workers are in the office full-time.

With daily headlines playing out regarding angry employees and failing return-to-office strategies, the legal sector has held its own. Now that they are back, though, it’s inherent on you to keep them engaged and wanting to come in.

Meeting rooms play a pivotal role in how the office functions, serving as a critical hub for fostering client relationships and enhancing team productivity. In the legal profession, where effective communication, negotiation, and collaboration are paramount, the significance of meeting rooms cannot be overstated.

The Value of Meeting Rooms in Legal Offices

Meeting rooms are critical in law offices for facilitating in-person meetings. You’ve likely got rooms of various sizes and ensuring you have meetings in the right spaces is important for the flow of traffic in and out of the office. A two-person meeting should not be in your biggest office.

As important as virtual technologies were during the pandemic for keeping us engaged face-to-face virtually, in-person client meetings are an intangible in the relationship between firm and client, and provide an opportunity for lawyers to establish a personal connection with their clients that goes beyond the transactional nature of legal proceedings.

Meeting rooms also play an integral role in improving team productivity within a law office. Legal cases often involve multifaceted challenges that require collaboration among various members of a legal team and meeting rooms provide the environment for brainstorming, strategizing, and problem-solving.

How to Build An Effective Meeting Room Policy

It’s an intangible in-office experience - even if we don’t always acknowledge it. We all know the frustration of waiting for a room that’s run over or trying to find a room but, everywhere you look, there’s an internal meeting. Here are some tips for your meeting room policy:

Define Scope and Intention

Your meeting room policy needs to have a purpose. Why is it necessary? Why can’t employees squat in empty rooms? What you put together must include:

  • Maximizing space allocation
  • Optimizing utilization
  • Limiting distractions
  • Fostering collaboration
  •  Eliminating booking frustrations

If you have multiple law offices, consider whether or not your new policy will apply to each location or if individual offices will decide on their own guidelines.

Establish Purpose for Each Room

Rooms come in different sizes with different communication platforms and each should have its own purpose.

Start your policy by defining what the purpose of each room is. Is it an internal team room? An internal 1-on-1 room? Is it a client room or a room for firm-wide meetings? Do these rooms have special audio/visual needs?

These questions need to be answered for each room and general rules need to be set. By defining the purpose of each room you better map out what rules and guidelines you’ll need to communicate to your teams.

Make Room Booking Easy

The booking process is critical to the success of a meeting room policy. The booking system should be easy to navigate and accessible to all employees across different departments.

Some companies still rely on manual systems for this function, which takes up a lot of time and resources. However, most companies take advantage of meeting room booking software; in fact, more than 90 percent of law firms use Microsoft Office 365, which booking platforms integrate with so everything happens right from one platform.

Conference room scheduling software provides more control over the booking process and integrates with your calendar system so employees can book a room right from their own calendar. Teams can also search rooms based on availability, resources, and capacity and request or reserve a space in advance.

Provide Clarity

Meeting room guidelines must be clearly communicated. When outlining your rules:

  • Provide instructions on how to use the equipment in the meeting room
  • Detail any rules that apply to specific rooms or locations
  • Clearly indicate time limits for bookings and auto-cancellation settings
  • Consider any health and safety measures or clean-up protocols after using a space

It’s hard to institute new processes that don’t have clear guidelines that aren’t well communicated.

Create a System That Monitors and Enforces Policy

It takes time to get policies right. Some workers are resistant to coming back into the office, while others are happy to be back. Design a system that sends reminders to employees who violate the policy or those who do not book rooms in advance.

In order to be effective, policies need to be communicated clearly and regularly. Managers should be proactive in enforcing the policy and addressing any violations that occur.

Collect Feedback so you can continue to Iterate

flexible work is hard. It’s a lot of push and pull between management and employees. Be patient and supportive. The meeting room policy needs to be reviewed periodically to ensure that it is still effective. Collect feedback from employees and gather input from IT, facilities, and people teams to identify areas for improvement.

Don’t be afraid to adjust. We’re all learning in the flexible world and, sometimes, your policy may need to be adjusted based on feedback. Stick with it.

Meeting Room Management is Critical for Productivity

Meeting rooms facilitate team collaboration, help you foster better client relationships, and ultimately help your workers be more productive - when managed well. As technology continues to evolve, the enduring value of meeting rooms in fostering meaningful connections and driving successful legal outcomes remains unparalleled.