Consider this. The average cost of an employee travelling and attending a meeting in the UK is £316, with 85% of those costs attributed to the travel elements [source: NYS research]. Then consider that UK organisations spend between thirty and seventy percent of their meetings budgets on internal meetings held at external venues.
Most internal meetings are small in size, simple in format and last less than a day. Based on our own research, 97% of internal meetings are attended by five delegates or less; 54% are for just two or three delegates. Conversely, 60% of one-day meetings are for internal purposes. [Source: NYS research based on 29 clients, January to December 2018]
The unavoidable conclusion is that the savings achieved by bringing those meetings in-house are substantial.
Organisation culture plays a big part in whether internal meetings are held on or offsite, especially in sectors such as Logistics, Banking, and Engineering, where external venues have typically been utilised for small meetings.
However, workplace culture is changing. Over half the global workforce now work flexibly most of the time, whilst 34% of employers encourage agile working. Ironically, remote working puts face-to-face contact at a premium, so the importance of internal meetings remains undiminished.
Scaling the savings
The first step towards including internal space in a strategic meetings management programme is to understand meeting planners’ behaviours, spend and data, and use those insights to create measurable, positive changes.
By challenging how, where and why an organisation holds internal meetings, we can help manage demand whilst connecting meeting planners to internal and external meeting spaces efficiently.
Location is an important factor in scoping the potential savings from bringing internal space into a meetings programme. For example, 18% of one-day, internal meetings take place in London, where average room hire rates are 44% higher than the national average. [Source: Ibid]
Deploying technology to make meetings activity visible is another key stage. By providing meeting planners with this visibility together with end-to-end support, we were able to help one organisation avoid £29,000 in external expenditure during a single month.
Internal meetings management brings its own challenges. It’s all too easy to skip a meeting when it’s just down the corridor. Some might say no-shows are inevitable but, as a rule, they should never exceed 20%. If they do, management disciplines should include identifying the culprits and in ensuring that common reasons for non-attendance are taken on board for the future.
The availability of space – and the right kind of space – is another barrier to be overcome. Depending on the purpose of the meeting, the number of attendees, room layout and the level of equipment required, a specific meeting room might not be appropriate. For example, holding a strategic review meeting next to the canteen just before lunch is unlikely to command attendees’ full attention.
Arguably the biggest challenge of all when managing internal meetings space is how the available inventory is tracked and booked. It is estimated that 40% of employees waste three weeks every year searching for meetings space, and yet just 36% of internal space is utilised. [Source: condecosoftware]
The best way to tackle each of these challenges is through technology. There are a number of platforms on the market to help manage internal space. They range from software built by user organisations, sophisticated off-the-shelf systems like Condeco, through Microsoft’s Outlook calendar (co-ordinated by a designated individual), to the analogue approach of sticking ‘Reserved’ signs on meeting room doors.
As always, not every platform will suit the needs of every organisation. So, when evaluating technology options, the ‘must have’ features include integration with Outlook and other existing business systems, digital signage integration (to address no-shows and ensure booked conference rooms are in use), APIs and local support.
Of course, internal space doesn’t have to be managed, although the fact that 4.75 hours is wasted every week arranging meetings without scheduling software should be justification enough. [Source: resoftco]
Audit existing internal estate, facilities and booking processes. Identify what works, and what doesn’t.
Engage with internal stakeholders to understand their perceptions of internal meetings, whether they need to be managed, and if so how best to do so.
Review the capability of your office space to hold on-day, internal meetings for five delegates or less.
Consider what equipment and support services your internal meetings require.
Identify the reasons that meetings need to go offsite.
Ensure you have access to data that provides insight into how and why internal meetings take place off-site.
Internal meeting space provides an opportunity to broaden the scope of your SMM programme and work with a wider group of key stakeholders such as facilities management and IT.
Connecting the dots between internal and external meeting room booking data helps ensure the workplace is fit for purpose, processes are in place to book and manage that space effectively and your own estate is fully optimised.