Does your office have a dedicated meeting space? Meetings are a routine part of business for many business executives and workers. In fact, a study of 65 CEOs conducted by The Wall Street Journal found that the average CEO spends approximately 18 hours of a 55-hour workweek in meetings – nearly one-third of his or her total time at work.
A meeting space will allow you to hold productive, meaningful meetings in your office. Whether you spend 18 hours or one hour per week in meetings, it’s a smart investment that will help your business succeed. However, there are a few things you should know when designing a meeting space.
What Is a Meeting Space?
Also known as a conference room, a meeting space is an area in an office where executives or workers gather to discuss business-related topics. This multi-purpose space is invaluable in today’s ever-changing business landscape. Here, you can brainstorm ideas with other executives, conduct training sessions, meet with clients, unveil new products, discuss leadership changes and more. While you can always discuss these topics elsewhere in your office, a meeting space offers a private and comfortable environment in which to do so.
Of course, any business owner or executive can slap a sign on a door room and call it a meeting space. But it takes thorough planning and proper execution to create an effective meeting space that resonates with your workers and clients.
The Size Is Right
There’s no universal size specification for an office meeting space. Different businesses have different needs. So, when designing your meeting space, consider how many people will use the space at once. A small meeting space may consist of just four chairs with a table in the center, while a large meeting room can hold a dozen or more workers.
Keep in mind, however, that you may need a larger meeting space as your business grows. Even if only two or three workers currently use your meeting space, this number may multiple in the future. Therefore, you should plan for the future by designing your meeting space with additional seating. You can’t squeeze more seats into a small room, but you can always leave extra seats unused.
One of the first things you’ll want to do when designing your meeting space is to choose a conference table. This will serve as the central hub of your meeting space, with workers gathered around to discuss the topic at hand.
Conference tables are available several different shapes, including the following:
- Square: Designed for small meeting spaces and rooms, square conference tables are inexpensive and easy to move, but they lack the necessary seating for many modern-day offices.
- Rectangular: The most common shape in which conference tables are made, rectangular tables provide sufficient seating, a clean and symmetrical design, and some even feature extensions to adjust shorten or lengthen its size.
- Circular: Like square conference tables, circular conference tables are typically used in small meeting spaces.
- Racetrack: A popular alternative to rectangular conference tables is the racetrack or oval. Featuring a shape similar to that of a racetrack, these conference tables have a long body with rounded ends.
You really can’t go wrong with either a square or racetrack conference. They both offer adequate seating and promote engagement among workers.
Pay attention to the materials from which the conference table is made. Like most types of office furniture, conference tables are available in a variety of materials. Authentic wood is a classic, timeless choice that looks great in all offices. Whether it’s cherry, mahogany, rosewood, walnut, maple or oak, you can rest assured knowing that it will enhance the aesthetics of your office. Alternatively, you could choose a metal conference table with a glass top, which usually cost less and are easier to maintain than wood conference tables.
After choosing a conference table, you should select the seating. With most rectangular and racetrack conference tables, you can place a single chair for every foot the table is wide. If you have a rectangular table that’s 15 feet wide, you should be able to fit 15 chairs around it. You can adjust the seating in your office space accordingly, but this is a good rule of thumb to follow to create a comfortable and efficient meeting environment.
Don’t just choose the cheapest office chairs and call it a day. To promote a productive environment in your office space, you should invest in high-quality, comfortable office chairs. Swivel chairs with casters on the bottom are an excellent choice. They allow workers to easily change direction if someone else begins talking, and many provide adequate lumbar support, which can protect workers from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and related pain injuries.
Here are some tips on choosing the right seating for your meeting space:
- Choose chairs with an adjustable height so that you can easily fit them under your conference table
- Avoid chairs with a fixed, non-movable base and, instead, choose chairs with casters on the bottom
- Stick with a single style for all the office chairs used in your meeting space
- Make sure the office chairs have armrests, preferably adjustable armrests that workers can raise or lower as needed
- Choose office chairs with a strong, supportive backrest (they’ll see a lot of use)
- If your office is located in a region with a hot-year climate, consider a mesh-back ergonomic office chair, which features a breathable mesh backrest for additional airflow
- Purchase a few extra chairs to place against the wall of your meeting space
Design With Color
According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, integrating blue into your meeting space’s design will encourage creativity and innovation. From 2007 to 2008, UBC researchers tested the cognitive function of participants while exposing them to different colors. Participants who were presented with a red testing environment experienced the highest levels of memory retention, but those who were presented with a blue environment experienced the highest levels of creativity and innovation.
You can use this to your advantage by making a blue a key color of your meeting space’s design. You don’t have to necessarily use blue furniture. Rather, consider blue decorations like paintings, wall art, photos, and rugs. Assuming your meeting space has an interactive whiteboard, you can also display a blue screensaver to further project this color throughout the area. These are just a few ways to incorporate blue into a meeting space. Feel free to experiment with other design methods to see what works best for your office.
Bring in the Outdoors
Consider decorating your meeting space with outdoor elements like container plants. Aside from the aesthetic benefits they offer, plants promote higher levels of productivity among workers. A study conducted by researchers from Washington State University (WSU) found that office workers completed tasks 12% faster in offices decorated with plants, while a second study found that plants boost office productivity by up to 15%.
Container plants offer any key benefit when used in office meeting spaces: cleaner air. As explained by Live Science, plants absorb volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon dioxide, toxins and other pollutants through their leaves. When used in your office’s meeting space, they’ll filter the air to create a cleaner environment and, subsequently, protect workers from infectious illness and disease.
Keep It Open
There’s no substitution for an office design in an office meeting space. After all, the fundamental purpose of a meeting space is to provide executives and workers with a convenient environment in which they can converse and share their thoughts. If a meeting space contains partition walls or cubicles, they won’t be able to easily converse.
A study published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that open office spaces increase employee satisfaction, communication, and collaboration – three elements that are essential for an effective meeting space. So, keep your meeting space open and don’t use partition walls or cubicles.
A whiteboard is an essential tool for office meeting spaces. Rather than using a traditional dry-erase-style whiteboard, though, consider investing in an interactive whiteboard. Featuring a large digital touchscreen display, they allow you to project your computer or device to everyone in your meeting space. Most interactive whiteboards have an average lamp life of 2,000 to 8,000 hours, after which the bulb must be replaced.
An alternative to an interactive whiteboard, however, is an interactive multi-touch display, which connects to your computer or device so that it too displays everything on screen. Interactive multi-touch displays live up to their namesake by supporting multiple points of simultaneous contact. While an interactive whiteboard usually supports a single or two simultaneous points of contact, an interactive whiteboard may support up to 10 points of simultaneous contact. Furthermore, they have a significantly longer lamp life of up to 50,000 hours.
If you’re designing a meeting space from the ground up, check to make sure Wi-Fi is accessible. Even if the rest of your office has fast and reliable Wi-Fi, a meeting space located on the edge of your office may not. To check the Wi-Fi speeds in your office, walk into your meeting space and connect to it via a wireless device. Next, use an online speed testing tool like the AT&T Internet Speed Test, which will measure your connection’s download and upload speeds. If it’s slower than the rest of your office, you should make some changes to boost the signal.
There are several ways to boost the Wi-Fi signal in your office meeting space, one of which is to move the router closer. If your router is currently located in the west wing of your office and your meeting space is located in the east wing, the long distance will create slower connection speeds. Moving the router closer shortens the distance, however, resulting in faster speeds.
You can also try using a different channel for your Wi-Fi. If your office is located in a commercial building that’s shared by other companies and their offices, there might be too many people attempting to use the same Wi-Fi channel. And just like the traffic on a highway slows down when it becomes congested, so will the traffic on a Wi-Fi channel. You can change your Wi-Fi channel by logging in to your router and adjusting the settings.
Your meeting space should be designed with proper lighting so that workers can easily see presentations and other material. Light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures with a dimming feature are a popular choice for office meeting spaces. They are energy efficient, stylish, and you can turn down the illumination power when using a projector to protect against glare. Although they cost more than incandescent light bulbs, LEDs can last for up 20,000 to 50,000 hours, whereas the former only lasts for about 1,000 hours.
In addition to artificial lighting, you should also incorporate natural lighting into your meeting space. If there are windows, don’t cover them with curtains or blinds but, rather, leave them to open to illuminate the meeting space with natural sunlight. One study cited by Psychology Today found that employees who work in offices with windows were more productive than their counterparts who work in windowless offices.
Finally, consider adding a coffeemaker to your meeting space. Consumed by 86% of all full-time employees on a daily basis, coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages, surpassed only by water. When you’re in the middle of a meeting, though, you probably don’t want to leave the room to use the coffeemaker on the opposite side of the office. By setting up a second coffeemaker in your meeting space, you’ll provide workers with easier access to this morning fuel.
With upper-level executives spending up to one-third of their time in meetings, a dedicated meeting space is more important than ever. However, you should follow some guidelines when designing your office’s meeting space. This includes using the right conference table, adding comfortable chairs, designing it with color, using the right lighting and more. By following the tips listed here, you’ll create an effective meeting space in your office.
President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for over 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.