As businesses navigate the uncharted waters of the hybrid work model, one thing remains crystal clear: meeting spaces are the lifeblood of every workplace. These are the areas where creativity flows, key discussions are brought to the table and pivotal decisions are made.
Of course, as we all know, they are also the place for some of the boring (but still significant) everyday stuff like project updates or check-ins. Given their multifunctional and frequent use, meeting rooms should be thoughtfully designed to accommodate the multifaceted interactions that take place within them.
Central to the success of these requirements is collaboration, a driving force behind productivity and innovation. The more a business can provide spaces that foster teamwork, the better. Moreover, the impression a room design makes to a prospective client or interviewee means the implications of transparency, trust and professionalism should also be considered.
All of these necessities are amplified by the demands of hybrid working. Organisations now have to radically rethink traditional layouts as they strive to craft shared places suitable for both in-person and remote participants. Employees are embracing flexible schedules and exercising autonomy over office zone usage. This means businesses and facilities management teams must examine workplace functions like office design, space allocation, meeting protocols and how people engage with the area.
Regrettably, meeting rooms are frequently overlooked in terms of design. Believe it or not, elements such as furniture type and placement, technology, lighting and décor wield considerable influence over the direction and efficacy of get-togethers. Yet, many room configurations fail to provide the necessary support for meaningful conversations to unfold.
Two primary culprits emerge that commonly prevent effective meetings: faulty or difficult-to-use technology and outdated features like uncomfortable furniture, inadequate lighting or the wrong screen size for the room.
Today’s offices are adopting diverse meeting room layouts, infusing collaborative workspaces with modern interior ideas. It can involve utilising cutting-edge technology, ergonomic equipment and embracing natural light. Four pillars underpin a well-crafted meeting room design:
1. An appropriate layout
Meeting rooms serve many purposes, from high-level board gatherings to client presentations and casual brainstorming sessions. As such, no one-size-fits-all room layout works for every office. However, there are simple adaptations like using smaller tables that can be placed to create one big table and moved around as needed. This mobility encourages creativity and boosts participant engagement.
2. User-friendly technology
The hallmark of successful collaborative technology lies in its seamless user experience and enabling participants to share screens and content effortlessly from their preferred devices. Focus and productivity increase when people don’t have to worry about setting up for sessions and ensuring devices are compatible with the tech already in situ.
Additionally, staff can communicate and share resources and information more efficiently, which is the whole point of meetings. Technology is available – such as DisplayNote’s Launcher – which acts as an interface for the room display, giving users simple access to their calls, calendars and apps on the screen.
Thanks to the ability to customise apps, users can enjoy a consistent and standardised experience in every meetup space across a working environment.
3. Communication and connectivity
Communication is essential in the modern workplace. When working with remote staff, global team members or outside clients, including them easily in meetings is a must.
Digital tools like screen-sharing and note-taking software are practical methods to ensure positive engagement and dialogue. The same applies to proper etiquette, such as making an agenda, reading in advance and using the session for discussing essential topics.
Likewise, audio quality has emerged as a paramount concern, as clear communication remains at the heart of productive collaboration.
4. Environmental factors
Ambient lighting and room temperature, good acoustics, comfortable furniture and adequate space for movement should all be key considerations when planning an area where people gather together. Encompassing all these factors will help ensure the environment remains conducive to productive discussions, even for prolonged periods.
In the era of hybrid working, it is even more critical to have communal spaces which accommodate both physically present and virtual participants. Meeting rooms represent an essential component of any workplace and their design can have an enormous impact on the success of gatherings.
Ed Morgan is COO of DisplayNote