Closets. Every house, apartment and condo has them. You have one in your hallway, your bedroom, and even some bathrooms have them. We store clothes, shoes, and all kinds of junk in our closets. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that in each of your closets you have there is stuff in there you haven’t touched in at least a year. Yet, we don’t throw any of it out.
I have a saying when it comes to closets:
No matter how many closets you have they will always be full.
Unfortunately, where I work conference rooms are just like closets.
Like many cubicle-farm environments, privacy is severely lacking and trying to find a place where you can have a discussion or phone call without someone sitting 3 feet from you separated only by 2 inch think, gray polyester covered particle board listening to your conversation, is at a huge premium.
We actually have a lot of conference rooms. Some are big and hold 20+ people easily. Some are quaint, holding 4 at most. All, however are booked all day, every day. They are the corporate closet.
Those of you who have been following me know that my Mom shaped me. And, she also shaped my closet behavior. No you freaks, this has nothing to do with coming out of the closet.
You see, Mom used to make me clean my closet roughy twice a year. I would argue we should do the same with conference rooms. Huh, what? What the heck is CV talking about? Bear with me…
Today, I was trying to schedule a conference room a couple of hours before a rather impromptu meeting. Couldn’t find one. In looking at that cool Outlook meeting planner thingie where you can see the calendar for people and resources, like conference rooms, each of the rooms were solid blue (not available) all day. Ok maybe not all day, but who wants to schedule a meeting at 7 pm?
Once again, I gave up. And after my meeting was done, I went for a walk to the break room passing roughly 7 conference rooms. ALL but one was empty. Wait, what? How is that possible? So I looked at the calendars a little closer. These rooms were mainly booked with recurring meeting after recurring meeting. I understand things come up and meetings are cancelled, but if the meeting space isn’t cancelled and no one knows it, is it really free?
Using resources, like closets works best when you plan. You see, my Mom liked to shop and thus she taught me, plan for adding more clothes. CV, free up space in your closet.
This brings me to my first rule:
If you cancel a meeting, also cancel the conference room.
Free it up for fools like us actually trying to have a meeting.
Last week, between stuffing myself with food and trying to convince myself that watching 6+ hours of football games a day was equivalent to 2 hours of treadmill work, I decided to go through the closet in my home office. On the shelf above that sweet Members Only jacket and next to that double-cd of Frampton Comes Alive <Ooo baby I love your way>, I found what looked like a cell phone charger. It wasn’t for one of the 3 iPhones we have so clearly it was old. Should save it? No, whatcha thinking CV, BlackBerry is as good as Motorola’d- dead.
Nope smarter heads prevailed (aka my wife told me)…and straight to the garbage, er I mean the politically correct, eco-friendly electronic recycling bin.
Which brings me to the next rule:
If you find that a dry-erase marker doesn’t work, dear god throw it out. Do not put it back on the dry-erase marker shelf.
You all know that I’m a big fan of food and have been known to blow off meetings over the lunch hour for lack of a cookie. Bottom line, schedule a meeting over the lunch hour and you best supply lunch. So, when people schedule meetings over the lunch hour and it’s typically, sandwiches and pizza. Sometimes Asian or Indian.
I’m a foodie. Love to eat. Flavor for me is key. To me, a really good sandwich can be like a really good red wine, if that sandwich has flavor. Yet, over time, even the best food tends to stink. So, you can imagine how the basic catered, lunch-time meeting food can smell a couple hours later.
And, this brings me to my final conference room rule (for now anyway):
If you have food brought in, don’t just toss your left-overs in the garbage can in the conference room, take them to the break room garbage.
Like your 13 year old son’s closet, you don’t want to find oddly smelling items under the, hmmm, are they dirty or clean clothes pilled in the back right corner. There is nothing worse than coming into a conference room around 2 pm for a for a 1+ hour meeting and having to smell the half-eaten turkey sandwich with mayo and onions fermenting in the tin cylinder on the floor next to the dry erase board.
For those of you who old enough to remember, a guy back in 1991 said, “Can we all just get along?” Part of “getting along” in the work word is being courteous to your fellow co-workers. Much of this is common sense (if it doesn’t work throw it out). Some of it requires a bit more thought (don’t need the room, free it up for others). But, when the day is done, like closets, you can never have enough conference rooms, especially non-smelly ones.