How to Design a Productive Conference Room
“Meeting” is a dreaded word to office workers everywhere, which is why conference room design is important. Meetings are meant to enact procedural improvements through in-person collaboration, and potentially foster workplace camaraderie. Instead, they too often descend into rambling speeches and off-the-rail tangents that leave workers feeling like their time was stolen and wasted.
Simple meeting etiquette can alleviate many of these issues. Send out an agenda so attendees can arrange their thoughts before topics are discussed. Include the meeting’s location so workers aren’t left scrambling. Double-check the technical equipment so valuable time is not lost to cuing up an uncooperative projector. Keep a break room nearby stocked with tea, coffee, nuts, fruit, and granola. Keep the meeting on-topic and respect time limits.
Beyond meeting procedures, there are a number of steps company leaders can take to improve the productivity of meetings through the design of the conference room itself.
Here are six helpful conference room design ideas that will lead to more productive meetings and more satisfied attendees.
- Have Fewer Chairs: Researchers at Washington University found that working in a room without chairs “increased group arousal, decreased territorial behavior and increased sharing of information and ideas…” Meeting attendees who stood rather than sat ignored their phones, were more focused, congregated near each other, and were generally more supportive of one another.
- Increase Natural Light: Fluorescent lights are everywhere because they’re economical and lightweight, but they can hurt a meeting’s productivity by causing eye strain, which hampers comfortable focus and cognitive performance. Natural lighting through windows, by contrast, has led to happier workers, less absenteeism, fewer illnesses, and increased productivity.
- Soundproof the Room: Installing echo absorbing sound panels around the perimeter of the conference room can eliminate blurred sound signals and background noise that distract attendees and hampers understanding and focus.
- Add Foliage: A study from Australia showed that green plants increase worker productivity by 15%. Additionally, they improve workplace air quality and inspire the feeling that the company cares about its workers’ well-being.
- Decorate: Art in the workplace has been shown to increase productivity, creativity and worker satisfaction. IPaintMyMind will curate art in a workspace for a nominal fee. Additionally, the color of the conference room can affect the meeting’s energy and productivity. A soft green is great for inspiring efficiency and focus. A mellow yellow is better for sparking creativity. A muted blue can help meeting attendees feel calm and stable.
- Control the Temperature: The magic number is 71.6 degrees. According to a study out of Finland, that’s the temperature setting at which productivity peaks. Anything below 68 and above 77 has decreased typing speeds by 66%, and very often emboldens workers to complain.
A badly run meeting in a poorly designed conference room can leave workers feeling angry and cynical about their company. A well-run meeting in a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing conference room, however, can lead to beneficial changes and a happier, more productive workforce that’s better equipped to push the organization in a positive direction.