Posted October 10, 2011 by Scott Reed 

Who Owns Our Meeting Space?

Many union facilities don’t have new building projects or major renovations underway that would incorporate ever-changing critical needs for meeting student demands in our meeting spaces. This factor puts facility mangers in a role of determining how to make small, incremental progress for developing our meeting spaces within standard annual budget allocations.

Working with several aging facilities and meeting spaces on a large public campus, we realized a hidden issue behind why our spaces at Virginia Tech have traditionally stayed the same year after year, leaving us behind in technology, aesthetics, and room assets. Though all of our facility staff resources who can impact room improvements were in place (maintenance coordinator, custodial coordinator, art director, facility project manager, production, event planning), a critical piece was missing in implementing improvement to our many meeting spaces. We realized that none of these resource groups “owned” our meeting spaces similar to the way they would own, improve, plan, budget, and change their own offices, storage areas, etc.

Owning a common meeting space in our facilities had been handled for years with a piecemeal approach of replacing just trashcans, rotating art, or repainting a specific space every few years. In short, no collective strategic unified plan was in place. The result of this segregated approach was that our spaces were a mix of outdated elements, seasoned elements, and new elements with no unification. Though not all together bad, certainly not the collective approach or “wow” factor to room renovations that we desire for our students.

Therefore, we took action to improve our spaces. We developed a “vision team” of the staff resource areas that included the art director, facility staff, maintenance staff, custodial staff, production staff, and operations staff, along with input from event planning. As a group, we developed a short-, mid-, and long-term meeting space “flipping” plan that is paying big dividends. Our flipping plan is proving effective as we have already seen increased room usage, increased compliments, and stronger budget support for future space renovations. Some rooms have new setups, some have new art, and all have new technology through following this process. We also have a preventative maintenance plan built into area budgets. In fact, it’s almost like we all collectively take ownership of our meeting rooms now as opposed to guessing in the past about who was responsible for which improvement aspect.

In short, defining who owns aspects of room improvements, developing a strategic unified renovation plan or team, and intentionally assessing how each space is meeting student demands can pay off in keeping old paces looking like they belong in the 20th century.


 

Scott Reed

Scott Reed is the Associate Director of Student Centers and Activities at Virginia Tech.

Scott oversees and directs services, operations, and facility management needs for four student center buildings. Through this role, he has overseen renovations, served on the campus sustainability committee, led safety planning for the union, and is currently co-chairing a facility management software transition team. A long time member and volunteer for ACUI, Scott received his bachelor’s in sports management from Western Carolina University and his master’s in kinesiology with a concentration in sports and recreation management from James Madison University.

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