If you spend enough time traveling for business, you’ll eventually realize that conference rooms come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the best conference rooms make you wonder why you would ever get on the plane to go home. Some of the worst force you to wonder what wrong turn led you to an ‘80s house party.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of businesses don’t understand how to design conference rooms that work for them and their partners. Many managers want little more than empty spaces where they can give presentations. As long as they can meet their jobs’ requirements, they don’t care.
Fast-paced entrepreneurs and freelancers often have a deeper understanding of space and the importance that it plays in creative thinking, collaboration, and business success. To them, conference rooms are more than random spaces with big tables surrounded by chairs.
When you care about the environment that you work in, you find that your work becomes better. That’s one of many reasons that you should think carefully about design options before you build conference rooms. Explore these conference room ideas to find options that will boost your personal and professional success.
How to design your conference room
Understand the room’s purpose before you design. Conference rooms can serve several purposes. You should know the purpose of your room before you start designing it. Do you need it to hold five people or 50? Do you plan to use the space daily or monthly?
The more you know about the reason your conference room exists, the better you will be at creating a design that serves the room’s purpose.
Integrate technology into your conference room design
Technology plays a crucial role in how modern people work. When you prepare presentations, you expect that conference rooms will have the right technology for you to display graphs, designs, videos, and other media that support your ideas. What happens when you find that a conference room doesn’t even have a projector? You have to scrap your original presentation and use a bare bones version.
Integrating technology into conference rooms goes far beyond giving people access to basic audio-visual equipment, though. You need digital, physical integration that supports how people communicate now.
Today’s conference rooms need outlets so people can charge their mobile devices while attending meetings, reliable internet accessibility that keeps people connected to the internet and each other, and LCD screens that let presenters show off their best work.
Without the right technologies, your conference room could become a stumbling block to progress.
Provide furniture that keeps people active
Doctors warn that sitting too much during the workday can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Those are already good reasons to choose furniture that keeps people active while they’re in the conference room.
Getting people on their feet serves an additional purpose: active bodies invigorate brains. Installing furniture like standing desks, kneeling chairs, and balance ball chairs in your conference room, you can get more work from people.
The next time you’re in a traditional, sedentary conference room, look at the people around you. You’ll probably spot them checking their phones, staring out the window, or staring blankly into space. Depending on the time of day, you may even notice a few people drifting off to sleep.
These issues disappear when you have furniture that encourages people to get on their feet and stay active.
Create a space that inspires collaboration
Collaboration is one of the most important tools that businesses can use. The Era of the Lone Genius has passed. Today, the best ideas come from groups of people sharing with each other. You need your conference room to inspire the collaboration you need to find the next big idea.
Collaboration can happen in different ways, so you’ll need to think about how you want your conference room to inspire people. If you have a lot of people working on a project, then you may want a conference room that makes it easy for people to break off into small groups. After a short brainstorming session, you can bring the groups back together to share ideas. If you have a small group of experts working on a single issue, then you may want a table where they can collaborate via tablets and smartphones.
Considering the importance of collaboration, you need to spend some time thinking about what type of conference room will serve your team best.
Add acoustic furniture to large conference rooms
Collaboration can lead to one unwanted side-effect: Noise! When you get enough passionate people working on different problems, they can create a cacophony that makes it difficult for individuals to concentrate. You don’t want to stifle the passion of a brainstorming session, so you should get acoustic furniture that makes it easier for people to talk without disturbing others.
Acoustic furniture includes dome-shaped chairs that direct voices in one direction instead of letting them spread throughout the room. You can also use pods that are large enough for four or five people to speak in private.
Investing in acoustic furniture may seem like an extravagance at first, but you’ll love how easy it is for people to think and communicate when they don’t feel oppressed by noise.
Install sound-absorbing items
If you’re not ready to purchase acoustic furniture for your conference room, then you should at least install some sound-absorbing items that will reduce noise.
Placing a few screens around the conference room can block voices from reverberating off flat walls. Hanging paintings on the walls can also absorb unnecessary noise.
If you want to get serious about blocking, hire a soundproofing expert to evaluate your room. A pro can tell you exactly where to place sound-blocking items to create a quiet atmosphere even when you have a dozen people talking at once.
Choose colors according to psychology. Scientists have found that colors can affect the ways people feel, think, and behave. Bland colors like gray and beige increase the prevalence of sadness in workforces. Research suggests that green and blue helps people focus and think efficiently. Red walls may inspire passion that you don’t typically see in employees.
Not everyone believes that color psychology matters. You may think that it’s nothing more than pseudoscience. Before you dismiss color psychology, consider that you have to paint your walls. You have to choose a color, so why not pick one that psychologists say will inspire employees to do better work. A blue wall costs the same as a beige wall, so why not play it safe by choosing blue?
Bring nature into your conference room
Incorporating nature into a conference room gives you and your colleagues numerous advantages. Certain plants—including spider plants, gardenia, jasmine, and snake plants—filter impurities from indoor air. Poor indoor air quality is a big problem for people with allergies, asthma, and other breathing conditions. Including a few plants in your conference room could help them feel better so they can concentrate and contribute more.
Plants and other natural elements like rocks and water can also improve moods, help people feel more comfortable, and increase energy.
Some people who live in urban areas interact with nature so rarely that they suffer from nature deficit disorder. This condition can cause stress, poor concentration, depression, and other mental health problems that prevent people from reaching their potentials.
Use novelty to inspire creativity
When designing a conference room, look for opportunities to introduce novel elements that will surprise people. Novelty has a way of shocking people out of narrow viewpoints so they can discover new approaches to solving problems.
You can interpret the word novelty in a lot of ways. Novelty could mean that you have board games stored in a closet. When you feel like your team has gotten stuck in a rut, bring out the games to get them thinking in different ways. Novelty could mean placing small toys around the conference room. As people ruminate on an idea, they can play with Rubik’s Cubes, put together puzzles, or draw in sketchbooks.
The only problem with novelty is that you have to replace the items often. After a few weeks, a novel toy will become familiar. As long as you replenish your stock of games, puzzles, and other novelty items, you can encourage people to think about things in creative, new ways.