Effective business collaboration is key for increasing employee productivity and ensuring that everyone on the proverbial boat is rowing in the right direction. Creating private meeting spaces for employees to gather and share status updates can be a great way to improve collaboration in the workplace. However, there are many obstacles to creating an effective meeting space in an office, including:
- Background noise;
- Limited space for meeting rooms;
- Poor audio quality on teleconferences;
- No convenient display options for presentations;
- Poor Wi-Fi connections;
- Technology distractions; and
- Needing to accommodate remote workers.
Tackling these challenges can be well worth it to create more opportunities for effective collaboration. For example, Small Business Trends notes that collaboration enables more efficient processes by allowing “employees to focus on specific parts of your mission, at specific times — without costly overlap or gaps.” This can save time and money in the long run, making the business as a whole more competitive.
When setting up a boardroom, small huddle room, training room, or a multipurpose room, it’s crucial to consider the room’s purpose and desired functionality in order to achieve the best results.
For example, how much (and what types of) technology will be required? Will one or more meeting attendees need to share content to a display? Will content be displayed from a single device in the room or via personal devices, or both? Will multiple attendees need to share content on the display at different times during the meeting?
Here’s a short list of some best practices that can help you choose the right conference room setup options to maximize the use and intended benefits of the technology within your business:
1: Choose Your Conference Room Sizes Based on Team Needs
One of the first things to consider on your conference room setup checklist is how large or small the conference rooms in your offices need to be. If your teams all consist of four to seven people who meet daily for in-team huddles, odds are that they don’t need a large 20+ person boardroom to meet in—and such a large space would be a waste of money and resources.
In fact, many businesses are shifting focus away from larger conference rooms to create multiple smaller meeting spaces for their teams. According to data from Logitech:
“It is anticipated that the number of small and medium conference rooms will increase at a much faster pace (48%, 41%) than large rooms (27%). In fact, over the past 24 months, survey respondents reported that their large rooms had decreased most notably (12%) when compared to medium (3%) and small (1%) rooms.”
Using two or three small-to-midsize conference rooms in the place of a single larger boardroom allows companies to schedule more simultaneous team meetings with less risk of any given room being double-booked. This helps to make business collaboration easier for individual teams.
So, when designing conference rooms, it’s important to consider the size of the teams that will be holding meetings there but the seating arrangement within the room is an equally important factor. For example, if there’s a large, central screen on which presentation materials will be displayed, every attendee should be able to face the screen and read the contents with relative ease —otherwise, some attendees may not benefit from the materials being presented. For particularly large conference rooms, training rooms, or multi-purpose rooms, a single display, no matter how large, may not be effective at all. In such cases, multiple displays may be necessary to allow each person in the room to adequately view presentation materials.
2: Consider Using Soundproofing in Your Conference Room Setup
One of the more important conference room setup options you should consider is the use of soundproofing. In any given office space, it’s all too easy for background noise to become a distraction. In a closed meeting room, noise from the office can become a major disruption—preventing employees from hearing presentations clearly or being able to focus on the meeting agenda. This inhibits effective business collaboration and limits the productivity benefits of meetings.
Soundproofing a conference room can be an excellent way to make meetings more effective by reducing auditory distractions. One method is to employ active sound masking systems that help reduce distractions from background conversations and enhance overall speech privacy.
3: Assess Your Teleconferencing Needs for Remote Work Environments
More and more organizations are adopting some form of a “remote work” or “work from home” strategy that leverages technology solutions to let their employees work effectively away from the office. This introduces a new wrinkle in your conference room setup: the need to accommodate off-site employees so they are able to participate in office meetings as well as share, view, and edit presentation materials in real-time, which is the true essence of collaboration.
Teleconferencing resources are a must for the modern workforce. However, many businesses struggle to provide effective teleconferencing and/or video conferencing options for their teams.
Some key considerations when designing a conference room for effective teleconferencing include:
- High-quality displays for remote presentations to be shared on;
- Cameras and microphones to capture video and audio to share with remote workers;
- High-speed internet connections to allow live streaming of video and audio content; and
- Connectivity tools to let remote workers share and edit presentation materials.
4: Consider Installing a Room Scheduling Solution
Even when an office has multiple conference rooms for employee meetings, there is always the risk that a room might be accidentally double-booked—especially when different teams have a lot of internal meetings or teleconferences with clients.
To prevent double-booking a conference room, it’s important to have a room scheduling solution in place that allows everyone to see when rooms are available and to schedule their meetings well in advance.
While an online tool for scheduling rooms is helpful for this—it’s also important to have a display near the conference room that can be used to check room availability and to sign in or out of the room as needed. For example, say an employee receives a call from a client and needs to use a small conference room for some privacy. A touch screen near the door of a conference/meeting room can let the employee know if the room is currently available (and for how long), and sign into the room so it is marked as occupied for the duration of their meeting.
Having a room scheduling solution makes it much easier to manage your conference rooms and prevent issues that disrupt employee meetings.
5: Consider Integrating Lighting and Shade Controls
Bad lighting can detract from employee meetings as meeting attendees struggle to see presented materials because the room is either too bright or too dark. For example, if a boardroom has an exterior-facing window, the glare from the sun can blind participants and make it hard to see materials being shown on a digital display. Especially harsh lighting can create screen glare that makes it difficult to see as well.
On the other hand, a room that’s too dark makes it harder for employees to take manual notes or see presentation materials on a whiteboard. Darkened rooms can also cause eye strain for employees, reducing their productivity after meetings.
So, it’s important to have a comprehensive suite of tools for controlling the lighting in a conference room, including:
- Dimmers for lights so employees don’t have to choose between glare or total darkness;
- Motorized shades to block out harsh external light sources; and
- Remote controls to allow presenters to control light levels and shade devices from anywhere in the room.
As an alternative to dimmers, some conference rooms may use LED lights with adjustable output levels and voice controls to create a “smart” conference room solution.
Curious about how you can create better business collaboration with a smarter conference room setup? Reach out to Blue Wave Communications to learn more!