There is nothing more exciting than walking into an empty office space you’re about to rent and envisioning what it will look like when you’ve moved in and designed the interior. You take painstaking care to choose the right layout, like the open office concept, to encourage the highest levels of productivity. But one area that can often be overlooked, an afterthought, is the conference room.
Conference rooms are nobody’s area, they’re a communal area for everyone’s benefit. Sure, everyone will learn how to book a conference room, but no one can just commandeer the space as their own. It’s just a place where meetings happen, ideas flow, you’re in and out and then go back to your desk. So it’s easy to forget about them during your design process.
This misconception is why so many conference room solutions are banal. A long conference table, with oversized chairs, and some sort of A/V equipment. Companies that put little to no thought into the design of its conference room(s) are missing out on a huge opportunity to impress visitors and set the tone for more upbeat and productive meetings. Every company needs a meeting room plan.
Important business is done in conference rooms. You’re not just planning the office Christmas party in the conference room. You could be presenting to clients or making big deals. The conference room is often the only part of the office an outsider might see. It’s important that you put as much thought into your conference room design as you do the rest of your office.
These are the four elements of an amazing conference room design.
1. Comfortable Furniture - Your furniture is the most crucial element of your conference room. Not only does it make a statement about your company, but its comfort sets the tone for the entire meeting.
Uncomfortable chairs will detract attention from the business at hand. Tables that are too small can cause a cramped feeling, which will make your meeting unpleasant. Just because you saw a display in Architecture Digest that looks amazing, doesn’t mean that’s the best choice for your conference room. Choosing appropriate furniture for your conference room is a balance with look and comfort. It will go a long way towards increasing meeting participants’ focus and productivity.
2. Clear Presentation Area - Where do you anticipate presentations taking place? Make a point of knowing where this area is in the conference room. Now consider how everyone’s chairs will be arranged when someone is speaking. Can everyone see? Does everyone have access to necessities like outlets?
It’s easy to place a table in a room with chairs around it. But your conference room layout has to be conducive to communication. Knowing where the presenter will stand and how everyone else will be positioned is critical. If you’ve set up your presentation area in a way that causes half the room to turn away from the table and have their backs to the other members, it will make conversation more difficult.
3. Functional and Flexible Technology Options - There are a few key elements when setting up the technology in your conference room. It has to be easy to set up and use. Nothing is as frustrating as wasting everyone’s time trying to get a presentation to show up on the conference room display. The easiest fix to this problem is have lots of technology options available. Set up Apple TV with Airplay so Mac users can quickly sync their computers to your TV. Or have a Google Chromecast for your PC users.
As a backup, make sure you have a wired connection (for both Mac and PC) in the event your WiFi decides to take a break at the most inopportune time. But double and triple your wireless signal just in case. Funky WiFi makes simple things like your conference room reservation software difficult and will prevent meeting participants from getting the necessary work done.
Also make sure that your technology is visible. It might seem cool to get a big projector, but if your conference room has a lot of natural light, viewing the presentations during the day could be difficult, which will distract everyone with the task at hand. Either make sure your blinds work well enough to increase your projector’s visibility or find another solution, like a 60” flat-screen TV. Bottom line, everyone has to be able to connect with your conference room’s technology and the technology has to be functional. That beautiful and expensive looking projector does nobody any good if no one can actually see the projection.
4. Reflects Your Company’s Brand - Your conference room is a peek into the rest of your company. Not everyone will see your entire office in detail. Often times people are moved from the lobby straight to the conference room. If that’s the case, make sure you convey your company’s culture and brand through things like room themes, colors, furniture, and art when designing your conference room display.
Furniture is one of the first things you notice when you step into a conference room; it really sets the mood and reinforces your brand to your visitors. If you’re looking to hire a creative team and you discover yourself in a room with large, burgundy leather chairs, a giant mahogany table, and dull antique paintings, you’re in the wrong place. A conference room with a clean glass table, colorful, modern chairs, and unique art on the wall tells me I’ve found my new creative team.
Animoto is a slideshow animation app and is a great example of a company that uses its conference rooms to display its creative and free thinking brand to the world. They started out with a meeting room plan, each meeting room was to have a theme. Some of Animoto’s conference rooms include the Camelot Room, which has a wall-sized castle entrance over the presentation TV, or the Situation Room, which is modeled after the very same room that’s located in the basement of the West Wing of the White House (complete with a red phone!). These creative rooms make booking a meeting a new adventure every time.
Your conference room shouldn’t be an afterthought. Put as much time and effort into your conference room as you do the rest of your office. A quality conference room can have a huge impact on your meetings by affecting everyone’s mood as they enter. Don’t risk loss of productivity or sales because you neglected your conference room design. Follow these four elements of conference room design and you’ll have a great space for your next meeting.