Meeting room shortage no more
Article5 min21 April 2017
Off-site, go-to options are reducing the meeting room meltdowns that can afflict space-challenged companies.
For many companies with offices in the city, the squeeze is on. Increasingly expensive capital city floor space is leading to space saving measures which increasingly call for limiting the number of meeting rooms or, in some cases, deleting them from the office plan altogether.
That means staff often need to hunt for temporarily vacant space – often still within earshot of other workers – or resort to public spaces.
When Dexus began researching the issue some years ago, it discovered there was sufficient demand for meeting space to warrant providing a solution.
Focus group feedback and independent research found that 70 per cent of tenants within Dexus's office buildings across Australia said they could never find a) a meeting room when they wanted it; and/or, b) a meeting room that was the right size for their immediate needs.
Interestingly, most of the same tenants said they would happily walk up to 500 metres for the right meeting space.
Dexus aims to provide a broad range of office space solutions for its clients.
And so, once the results of its meeting room research were in, it set about providing off-site go-to meeting spaces for companies that had literally run out of internal room.
To cater for that growing need, the first Dexus Place facility at 1 Margaret Street Sydney was launched in 2015. Since then similar facilities have opened in both Melbourne and Brisbane, and a second Sydney facility at 1 Farrer Place opened in September 2016.
As a mark of its success in gauging the market for off-site meeting space, the property group is seeing continued month-on-month growth across its four Dexus Place locations, with usage by Dexus customers running at up to 80 per cent of total rooms booked.
While Dexus Place facilities attract companies from a wide range of different industries, the highest demand comes from the IT, business consultancy and financial services sectors within Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Tenants report they would happily walk up to 500 metres for the right meeting space.
What level of service?
The off-site meeting room is an excellent alternative to spending money on meeting room assets that would never deliver a financial return. And it’s not just small companies jumping on the trend. Dexus Place customers include some of the world’s largest IT firms.
But for smaller companies, one of the dilemmas raised by the off-site movement is what standard of meeting room they should provide when meeting with their large clients.
Client companies are often significantly bigger than their service providers. If those service providers host a meeting off-site, would they do better to lease a bare bones meeting room, or should they take the opportunity to move the physical environment up a notch?
When contractors must find alternative meeting spaces, says Head of Dexus Place and Customer Initiatives Craige Marquart, they should consider facilities that are aligned with those of their larger clients. He believes the decision will reflect well on their business and brand equity.
Most companies are aware that there are off-site meeting spaces available across CBD capital city locations, but they may not be fully aware of the level of sophistication on offer today.
Marquart thinks the quality of the technology provided within facilities like Dexus Place is a key differentiator in the market. He refers to it as boardroom-to-boardroom connectivity.
Dexus provides Immersive Studio technology across its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane locations, which allows lightning fast connections to each location. It boosts the sense of real-life participation when the meeting’s participants are actually separated by hundreds of kilometres.
Up to 21 participants across each of these three sites can interact with each other via 84” thin bezel displays and pinpoint audio – as if they're literally in the same location.
"By creating an environment where up to 51 people from three locations are in the one place, companies are reducing unnecessary travel and accommodation costs, while eliminating lost productivity from having people in transit," Marquart points out.
Being able to project on a screen without going through a Wi-Fi network makes for a more secure environment and high quality picture and stereo surround sound.
Dexus also provides considerable choice when it comes to the size of the rooms, although timing is important here. While smaller rooms can usually be booked within a month of use, larger rooms seating more than 15 people require more forethought. These typically need to be booked more than a month in advance.
In a real-life illustration of the benefits of off-site meeting rooms, real estate services firm CBRE has reduced its travel expenses, employee down-time and room hire costs by around $10,200 per meeting through using all Dexus Place CBD locations across the eastern seaboard
CEO Ray Pittman says cost savings are one of many reasons that Dexus Place is the perfect solution for CBRE's off-site executive meetings.
"Giving staff video conferencing capability on their laptops and mobiles – allowing meetings to be undertaken remotely – is a viable cost-effective alternative to interstate travel."