Conference rooms are nothing new. For decades, office spaces have set up these separate spaces for team meetings, stand-ups, conferences, and one-on-one sessions.
With the rise of hybrid work models, workers are spending less time in the office. Their time is likely to revolve around video meetings with staff working from home and external clients, so creating a welcoming environment that harnesses productivity is paramount.
Whether you’re renovating your existing facility or investing thousands of dollars in brand new office space, these five steps will future-proof your conference room for any event.
Choose the right equipment
The video conferencing trend is quickly overtaking in-person meetings, so being prepared with the technology you’ll need to support this is a great place to start.
Consider the size of the room and the purpose it is likely to serve: a powerful set of speakers will help participants hear distant colleagues much more easily. We’ve already put together a handy guide to buying a professional webcam, but for a conference room, a video bar would be much better suited. The best video bars combine a camera (sometimes two, consisting of wide-angle and telephoto lenses), a sensitive microphone and speakers.
Either way, consider whether the camera has a wide enough angle to capture everyone in the room. Usually going over 120 degrees should be sufficient, with a 60-80 degree setting best suited for an individual worker.
A large screen will work well in most scenarios, but you may want to consider mounting multiple screens side-by-side in rooms likely to be used for video conferencing, especially with high numbers of participants. Select a display with a minimum resolution of 4K; better displays will be able to digitally enhance low-resolution video to appear clearer.
Historically, a desktop computer located close to the screen will have been used by a meeting host or presenter to load their visual aids onto a large screen, but more and more users are using laptops and mobile devices like tablets in the interest of portability with the new hybrid working. routines. Also, some video bars have built-in support for some video conferencing suites, so there’s no need to hook them up to a computer at all. Eliminating a large computer can create a cleaner environment, but whether you opt for a computer or not, be sure to provide plenty of connections for people to connect to screens, microphones, internet connections, etc A combination panel will look the tidiest.
If you are setting up more than one conference room, it is a good idea to standardize the equipment used so that no matter which room an employee is in, they can use the equipment. A good network connection in every room is essential.
Making sure your room is accessible to all of your workers is vital; this could include installing wider doors, mounting key touch points in lower positions, adding clear signage and using Braille plaques where necessary.
Any conference room needs to be versatile, especially as budgets tighten due to the pandemic and all its effects, so designing a room to be equally comfortable for team meetings and individual sessions should be part of your thinking.
Finally, using technology to your advantage to allow employees to book rooms can prove beneficial. The best systems integrate with users’ calendars and even have wall screens next to the door to the room to let others know if they’re busy.
Paying close attention to who is likely to use your rooms will dictate the best layout. The first of two popular configurations is to arrange the desks and rest areas in a “U” shape. It’s ideal for presentations or other meetings that are usually led by one person.
The second common layout focuses on a central island-shaped table, often referred to as a meeting room layout. This is ideal for meetings and interactive discussions.
There are many other layouts you can experiment with. We love the banquet style tables which are ideal for networking and collaborative work.
Whichever layout you decide best suits your needs, remember to space managers out among regular workers to challenge the intimidating reporting structure, creating a more comfortable environment.
A large meeting space table will have access to ports for power, Ethernet, and even to connect to the room display and other hardware. These all-in-one desks don’t have to be expensive – the floor connections are just as effective.
Conference and meeting rooms have long used uniform designs with little creativity, which means there is a great opportunity to spruce up your room.
Be adventurous with design and experiment with materials and colors that you don’t tend to use in the rest of the office. Conference rooms should inspire creativity, and what better way to instill it than a themed room that helps create a positive vibe.
Conference rooms can be tough places, so using warm decorations can help soften any room. A worker who feels more comfortable is more likely to be productive and have a valuable contribution. An easy way to do this is to install mood lighting, whether it’s smart light strips or low, bistro-style pendant lights.
Avoid distracting designs and furnishings, and remember to never choose form over function. Any office chair, for example, should be ergonomic and supportive, while desks should be spacious enough to accommodate at least a worker’s computer, laptop and a drink.
Create the perfect environment
Regardless of interior design and room layout, any space should be isolated enough to avoid outside distractions.
If you’re building new construction, consider placing your space away from office hotspots and social areas to reduce distractions and outside noise infiltration.
There are still ideas to implement if you are using an existing space. If you are renovating, adding additional sound insulation can pay dividends. In order to keep the room from looking too dark, add windows with an opaque coating. This softens the light while minimizing distractions from bystanders.
We presented the best free office software.