December 10, 2021
By Workspace Resource
Wondering if you should upgrade to a more modern conference room? Consider the following.
Meetings are an inescapable part of any worker's day, no matter where they work. And you're not alone if the prospect of trying to cram yet another meeting into your stressful workday gives you a headache. In fact, 46% of employees think some of the meetings are a waste of time.
Some of this waste can be solved through smart conference room design. By creating the right space, you can influence how your employees behave. Here is an example, how often are your meetings either 30-minutes or an hour-long simply because that is what the scheduling software defaults to? Meeting rooms can be the same way. Small huddle rooms foster shorter meetings with fewer attendees. Scheduling software helps ensure meetings start and end on time.
If you're with us that better spaces equal a better quality of work, then read on to learn how you can design a more modern conference room that looks great and functions.
Meeting rooms should be designed environments for specific outcomes. Making all meeting spaces look and feel like a typical conference room invites similar behaviors, attitudes, and generic design (which makes the problem worse.) Consider creating more varied spaces that inspire different types of meetings. Here are some common room types to help illustrate the concept.
Phone booths, sometimes called huddle spaces, are an excellent location for private 1-on-1 conversations. This is especially true in workspaces with open office environments. They can be great spaces for manager-employee check-ins or for staff to have calls with vendors and clients. Calling Booth are smaller rooms, typically 4' by 4' in size with decent soundproofing or sound-masking devices. They have minimal office furniture; typically a small table and one or two chairs.
A team room is a larger room than the calling booth but is still designed to be an intimate and focused setting. These tiny conference rooms have space for 4 to 8 people, perhaps 12 individuals with standing room. This makes them great for focused brainstorming sessions or, if you are an agile organization, daily standups.
Team rooms are typically furnished with a regular conference table, moveable seats, and peripherals to support other functions like whiteboards, large televisions, and teleconferencing equipment.
These are large conference rooms designed for bigger events: major client or board meetings, departmental get-togethers, and other crucial cooperation activities. They are built for 10-20+ individuals and are much more inclined to attract your company's interest (and money) than other spaces.
These rooms are designed to communicate your company's success, so you will want to furnish them with high-end office furniture. These rooms typically facilitate longer meetings, so in addition to technical requirements, consider that you might need a buffet counter or some method of presenting snacks and beverages to guests.
A modern conference room is nothing without cutting-edge technology. Before you begin the aesthetic design, make sure you have documented clear technology requirements. For example, if you plan to invite remote attendees regularly, you will need to ensure that you have a camera that captures the entire room and enough video monitors or a large enough screen so that you can see remote participants and presentations simultaneously. That much equipment will result in a lot of cables. which will have to be factored into your design.
In the aftermath of COVID, it seems unlikely that the entire workforce will be inside an office ever again. That said, meeting rooms will still play an important role in facilitating effective collaboration. You'll want to ensure that you have the technology to support video conferencing; speakers throughout the room and enough microphones to capture any speaker. Video technology will also need to be positioned so that anyone in the room can easily see faces and text on slides. Speaking of slides, your system should be easy to manage and integrate with. It's common for employees to present from their laptops and nothing kills meeting momentum like struggling with dongles.
If your room needs to support brainstorming, then you will need to consider how to incorporate collaboration technology. Today, there are interactive whiteboards that can share a digital version with remote participants. Whiteboards take up a lot of wall space that can hinder a design, so consider how to store it when not in use.
Meeting room features can be static (like a television mounted to the wall) or flexible (like chairs with wheels). Going back to the section prior, when you understand the function your meeting space needs to facilitate, you can make calls about what to hard build into your design. If a room needs to handle spontaneous collaboration, then you might want to ensure there are cabinets containing common brainstorming supplies, like post-it notes and pens.
Like your room's function, lighting should be flexible. If you are presenting or video conferencing, then lighting will need to be bright. Large windows can be good for keeping employees feeling fresh and happy. Dim rooms are better for presenting on projects. When designing the lighting, consider how flexible the space needs to be so that your lighting can support it.
Now that we've talked about the importance of meeting rooms and how they can impact your employees, let's look at some of the design tips and trends that will help you design a modern conference room.
A modern meeting room atmosphere is created by placing beautiful conference room seats around a big table with no seats at either head of the table. These designs reflect equality, with all participants getting equal access at the table. This fosters a sense of collaboration and open communication. This is great for Team Rooms.
Of course, the pandemic blew out anything that had to do with face-to-face meetings. As firms return to work, there is no hurry to restart huge, packed gatherings. The in-person groups returning first are tighter, more deliberate, and generally further apart. This is giving spark to non-conventional meeting spaces like outdoor meeting rooms and cafe-style seating.
Meeting rooms don't have to be dull, and neither do your other areas. Make your meeting rooms more welcoming by differentiating their themes. This might be as simple as color, or it could be linked to specific characteristics of your company, culture, or your city. Your imagination and the history of your company are the only limitations!
Conference rooms have historically treated acoustics as a footnote. As a result, one of the biggest trends for 2021 is adaptive acoustic design. Especially to help ensure remote participants can hear attendees well. If feasible, start with acoustic standards in mind while planning your meeting places. If that isn't possible, acoustic tiles and pleasant coatings can still treat the space correctly.
Your company's hues are almost definitely unique. Bringing in your brand colors can help reinforce your organization's culture and make a bold impression on any visitor.
Color theory can also play into the room design. Cool colors bring a sense of calm, bright and bold colors can elevate the energy of meeting participants. Pastels and neutral colors can make your rooms feel fresh and modern, whereas dark colors and woods feel more classical and timeless.
Crowded rooms bring an inherent sense of pressure and discomfort. It makes people want to leave, and while that can be good for some types of meetings, generally you want people in a relaxed and open mind-space. Ensuring you have ample room lightens the mood and provides opportunities for flexibility in room usage.
Office lighting is critical to employee happiness. Nothing makes an office feel cold and stuffy like fluorescent lighting. Windows or light tubes are a great way to bring in outside light. Choosing matte, non-reflective flooring and wall finishing with light colors will also help you make the most of your natural lighting.
Not only is LEED design popular, but so is bringing in nature. Living walls can make excellent accent pieces for a team room. They also serve a functional purpose in that they help reduce noise and have been correlated with a 15% increase in productivity.
For all the talk of the new, part of the modern design aesthetic is respecting the old. This will depend on your overall office space, but an exposed brick wall or some industrial touches can give your meeting space a modern and unique feel.
Now that you understand the importance of a thoughtful modern conference room and you have some tips, it is time to get started. If you're still feeling overwhelmed by the idea of conference room design, reach out and we're happy to help!