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Office Ghostbusters: A Step-by-Step Guide to Ending Ghost Meetings with VergeSense

December 14th, 2023 | 6 min. read

Office Ghostbusters: A Step-by-Step Guide to Ending Ghost Meetings with VergeSense
VergeSense

VergeSense

VergeSense is the industry leader in providing enterprises with a true understanding of their occupancy and how their offices are actually being used.

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Ghost meetings are the spookiest problem people are facing in the office right now. According to our Occupancy Intelligence Index, 11.3% of meetings are ghosted. That amounts to 10 million minutes of unrecovered time caused by people booking meeting rooms but not showing up.

So how can you prevent ghost meetings? With occupancy intelligence.

In this blog we’ll give you a clear step-by-step guide on how to stop ghost meetings with our Occupancy Intelligence Platform and provide a real-life example from a customer who had a case of ghosts in their conference rooms. Discover how you can reduce wasted space and optimize your workplace.

The 4 Step Guide to Stopping Ghost Meetings with VergeSense

Step 1: Understand the Scale of the Problem

To combat ghost meetings, you must first grasp the true scale of the issue within your workplace. Even if they appear as isolated incidents, ghost meetings accumulate into a substantial drain on resources — both in terms of direct costs and their less tangible but equally crucial impact on the employee experience.

Enter The VergeSense Occupancy Intelligence Platform — the Ghostbusters’ proton pack for your workplace. Leveraging wired and wireless occupancy sensor technology and VergeSense AI (a proprietary model trained on hundreds of millions of space interactions), our platform provides a comprehensive understanding of how your spaces are actually used. It goes beyond mere surface-level observations, capturing activity across every square foot in your office. This includes identifying costly problems like wasted spaces, passive occupancy, and of course, the volume, frequency, and location of ghost meetings.

Our platform helps you identify and understand the impact of ghost meetings in your office by: 

  • Capturing real-time data on room occupancy, meeting duration, and frequency, to reveal not only when meeting rooms are underused but also when they fall prey to ghost meetings. The data is analyzed and translated into insights that empower you to make more confident decisions, optimizing your workplace for efficiency and collaboration. 
  • Integrating with your room-booking software to bridge the gap between scheduled meetings and actual utilization. By combining the analytics provided by booking platforms with real-time occupancy data, you can align booking trends with how people are genuinely using, or potentially ghosting, those spaces. In step 4, we talk about how our integrations also allow you to eliminate unused workspaces by configuring business rules that automate check-in and release of scheduled resources using person count, and active and passive occupancy.

Step 2: Survey Your Employees

Understanding the root causes of ghost meetings is a pivotal step in effectively addressing this issue. Real-time occupancy data from VergeSense provides an unmatched quantitative perspective, but to really understand the story behind the data, it’s important to ask employees directly about their personal experiences with the meeting rooms you provide. 

For instance, if VergeSense occupancy data indicates that meeting rooms in a specific area or within a particular floor are repeatedly being ghosted, a qualitative survey may be needed to gather input from employees for the ‘why’. Are there recurring issues with the comfort level of meeting rooms? Is there a consistent problem with the availability or functionality of audiovisual equipment? Do employees perceive a lack of privacy in certain meeting spaces?

Once the survey responses are collected, analyze the data to identify common themes or recurring issues. Pay close attention to patterns that align with the occupancy data, as this correlation can unveil valuable insights into the specific pain points contributing to ghost meetings.

Step 3: Address Employee Barriers

Taking decisive action to address the barriers identified by employees is the next crucial step in putting an end to ghost meetings. Leverage the insights gleaned from surveys to implement targeted solutions that enhance the functionality, comfort, and overall appeal of meeting spaces.

Examples of actions you might take include: 

  • Temperature Control: If employee feedback highlights concerns about frigid meeting spaces, consider adjusting thermostat settings to create a more comfortable environment. Additionally, explore the possibility of providing additional heating options in these rooms, such as space heaters or adjustable climate controls.
  • Audiovisual Equipment Accessibility: Ensure that meeting rooms are well-equipped with functioning projectors, screens, microphones, and any other necessary AV tools. Frequent complaints about the lack of or malfunctioning audiovisual equipment can disrupt the flow of presentations and discussions, contributing to ghost meetings. Regular maintenance checks and swift resolution of technical issues will enhance the reliability of these tools, creating a more seamless and productive meeting experience.
  • Privacy Enhancements: In cases where privacy is a concern, take proactive measures to ensure acoustic privacy within meeting spaces. This can involve strategic placement of furniture, soundproofing measures, or the installation of acoustical panels to minimize sound travel. Depending on your budget, consider additional privacy enhancements such as window blinds or smart glass technology. These features not only address concerns about overheard conversations but also contribute to a more secure and confidential meeting environment.

Step 4: Implement Auto-Booking & Auto-Release

Now it’s time to implement an auto-booking and auto-release solution that permanently stops ghost meetings from haunting your workplace. Integrating our Occupancy Intelligence Platform with your room booking system ensures a more cohesive and user-friendly experience for anyone seeking a room, whether for a scheduled meeting or an impromptu collaboration session.

Leveraging our space booking software integrations, you can eliminate unused workspaces by automating room check-in and room releasing. You can configure actions based on person counts and ‘signs of life’, meaning our platform will detect whether or not a scheduled meeting room is actually occupied. 

Based on what we find, the following actions will happen: 

  • Auto Check-In: If we find the room is in use, we will automatically check-in reserved space.
  • No-Show Cancellation: If we find it’s ghosted, we will automatically release the reserved space within a defined grace period. 
  • Early-Release: If the meeting ends early – meaning VergeSense no longer detects occupancy during a scheduled meeting – we will automatically release the space.

Also beneficial is our space booking analytics, which gives you valuable workspace utilization insights like: 

  • What types of spaces are most booked?
  • How often are reserved spaces unoccupied?
  • How does your expected attendance rate vary from real utilization?
  • Realized and potential time savings from auto-release actions. In fact, VergeSense’s auto-release feature recovered nearly 150,000 minutes of ghosted meetings for enterprises!

How a Global Consulting Firm Ended Ghost Meetings – And Saved $50K Per Month – With VergeSense

In the bustling heart of New York City, a global consulting firm found itself at a crossroads. Faced with concerns over a perceived shortage of meeting rooms, the workplace team contemplated the significant and costly decision to lease an additional floor. However, a crucial question lingered in their strategic discussions: Were they genuinely running out of meeting rooms, or was it a matter of perception?

To answer this question, the workplace team turned to data-driven, occupancy intelligence from VergeSense. They delved into their space booking data to distinguish between the actual shortage and the perceived one. What emerged was an interesting trend of recurring meeting blocks initiated by the company's Managing Directors. Yet, upon closer inspection of VergeSense's real-time meeting room usage data, a startling truth came to light: a staggering 40% of these booked meetings were ghosted, accounting for 10,400 hours of underutilized room bookings because attendees were more likely to be on the road than in the office. 

Rather than opting for the expensive route of leasing additional space, the organization chose a more efficient course of action. They integrated VergeSense’s Space Booking Automation, which automatically released rooms that were booked, but had no attendees physically present. This decision not only reclaimed underused meeting spaces but also yielded a substantial estimated cost avoidance of $50,000 per month.

This tale is just one example of how occupancy intelligence can empower workplace managers to maximize the utilization and value of their existing spaces. The result when they do so is a workplace environment that meets the demands of the modern work era, prioritizing employee flexibility and strategic collaboration. 

Read our comprehensive analysis of year-to-date workplace occupancy trends, including meeting room utilization! Uncover office breaking points, meeting room inefficiencies, and real strategies and stories from the global return to work. 

Download our Q3 Occupancy Intelligence Index now!