An effective conference room setup contributes to a positive atmosphere for collaboration, inspires creativity, and improves overall business performance and productivity.
You need your conference rooms and any conference room setup to generate a great meeting experience and a high return-on-investment/ROI. This post helps you do exactly that.
Conference Rooms are Never "Set and Forget"
Effective conference room setup is an evolving, complex function, one that’s never “set and forget,” because the needs of attendees, some of whom may participate in person and some remote participants, can change. Meetings can be of different sizes and purposes, and have differing needs for technology and equipment -- your conference room setup will reflect these different needs. Conference room setup then goes far beyond “just” moving furniture and checking a few cables on the video display.
This post is a complete guide for facilities managers and IT teams tasked with conference and meeting room setup, providing them with actionable insights on conference room layouts, furniture configurations, room design, necessary equipment, enabling technologies, the right mix of conference room sizes, and more.
Furniture, Conference Room Equipment and Technology
Conference room setup starts with the meeting room itself, whose dimensions often dictate its intended use. A 6,000-seat stadium is great for a rock concert or a year-end corporate celebration, while a small room with a table and two chairs might be the best room size for a one-on-one performance review session, a job interview, or even largely remote meetings.
A conference room, then, has a dimension and a purpose – everything inside it must serve that purpose. A conference room needs an appropriate table (whether one large table or a number of small tables grouped together) and the right number of chairs.
A conference room also needs:
- Good lighting (people prefer natural light) and acoustics
- Biophilia, plants can make a big difference since people are more relaxed around nature
- Conference room equipment and devices to support video conferences and presentations, including an interactive whiteboard, a projector, and a screen.
Assuming you have hybrid meetings and use a video conferencing system, you’ll also need to facilitate remote access with appropriate internet connections, cameras, and microphones.
Conference room audio-visual equipment recommendations extend to your remote employees too, even if they're using personal devices for their video meetings: ensure that remote team members have the proper setup and equipment to fully participate, such as a headset microphone and a high-quality webcam (or simple web camera).
Conference Room Layouts and Their Merits
The specific layouts of your various meeting rooms will depend upon your physical space and the needs of your people for conference room space. The right conference room layout can enhance engagement, communication, and the overall effectiveness of all your meetings, including your virtual meetings too. So when choosing a conference room layout, consider the:
- Purpose of the meeting
- Number of participants (both in-person and remote attendees)
- Level of attendee interaction required
- Technology and equipment needed in the conference room
Begin by auditing and understanding your organization’s needs for meeting space. The Gensler Research Institute’s U.S. Workplace Survey 2022 revealed that only 34% of a knowledge worker’s typical week is spent on individual work, while the remainder is spent on collaborative work in meeting spaces. Organizations typically hold all-hands meetings, team/department meetings, project meetings, and smaller meetings such as one-on-ones.
Here are some common meeting room layouts for you to consider, depending on the needs of your people and your conference room supply:
1. Boardroom Style
The boardroom layout is a classic, featuring a large conference table in the center of the room with chairs surrounding it. Participants sit facing each other, which enables direct communication and encourages interaction within the conference room.
The boardroom style works best for formal meetings, executive sessions, and decision-making discussions.
2. Auditorium Style
Chairs are arranged in rows facing a stage, screen, or presenter in this meeting room style. The theater layout maximizes seating capacity and puts the focus on the stage/screen.
An auditorium style layout is ideal for presentations, conferences, or events where large groups don’t need to interact with each other.
3. Cluster Style
Multiple small round tables are placed in a circular or semi-circular arrangement within the conference room. This layout is designed to enable small group discussions, group work, collaboration, screen sharing, and a brainstorming session or hackathon.
In this meeting room style, each table functions as a self-contained workspace within the larger meeting space.
4. Classroom Style
Tables and chairs are arranged in rows, with participants seated facing the front of the room. This classroom style layout is common for training sessions and workshops held within large conference rooms.
Maximizing Your Meeting Room Setup
Here are some tips for creating an ideal conference room setup and room design, whether you're facilitating a board meeting, team meetings, of brainstorming sessions:
Leverage Digital Displays
Digital displays outside your meeting rooms can help with wayfinding and can be updated in real-time to show current and upcoming meetings. As an added benefit, employees can check the sign and know exactly when a conference room will be available in case they want to hold an impromptu check-in.
Monitor Room Utilization Data
Room utilization data (also called workplace analytics) provided by a meeting room booking system can help facilities and IT managers better understand the evolving use of meeting spaces and the specific needs of people, so the right equipment and technology can be included in rooms to address multiple purposes.
Invest in an Effective Meeting Room Booking System
This system shows your meeting organizers exactly what meeting space is available in real-time to address their needs, and allows them to easily book it. You avoid booking headaches like double-booked meeting spaces and abandoned meeting rooms that don’t get made available to others who may need it.
A meeting room booking system not only provides space utilization data, but also enables employees/meeting participants to report when rooms are missing equipment or when technology for the rooms aren't working correctly. This helps you provide and maintain an optimal conference room setup and room design with the tools necessary for effective, collaborative meetings.
Ineffective Setups Waste Time, Space, and Money
You can’t afford to waste your people’s valuable time, and your valuable office space, through ineffective conference room setups.
About a third of the 25 million business meetings held across the US each day are considered unproductive, according to The Ugly Truth About Meetings, an infographic that says unproductive meetings waste $37 billion a year.
Get your conference room setups right in order to unlock your organization’s productivity. Robin is here to help you do exactly that - let's chat.