Set up… your meeting rooms!
Meeting rooms of different sizes and configurations develop inside companies to meet the needs of collaboration. When comes the time of setting up these spaces, a few rules are mandatory.
According to a study by Perfony cabinet, a French national devotes, on an average, sixteen years for meetings in his career! In parallel, everyday working practices have changed: the spaces are free of partitions, the tools have become more interactive,and shiftingto digital has become dominant… several items in the meeting rooms must be adapted. Then how can we manage these spaces? What are the rules to be respected and the traps to be avoided for designing the meeting rooms adapted to expectations and requirements of users?
Define the surfaces to be allocated
A good meeting space must be convivial and adapted to the mode of working of its users. But, it is also necessary to identify and apply various normative aspects that allow the planning of these spaces. Do not ignore the constraints related to acoustics, outdoor air supply or even the provision of network connection points and power sockets in sufficient quantity…. And before getting into the final and detailed implantation of your meeting room(s), few rules and recommendations need to be followed. For example, we know that if the number of meeting areas will depend on the business and work-culture of each company and must be in line with the organisation andits working concept in team, it is necessary to provide a meeting room for 2 to 5 employees. Based on the type of meeting area created, we should plan a space of 1.5 to 2.5 m² per employee. A surface differs based on the desired usage and corresponding arrangement (open or closed space, with or without videoconferencing equipment, standing or seated…). There are several items to be determined at an early stage.
If you don’t find space for allocating the square meters required for the meeting rooms, why cannot we think on outsourcing them? Many companies follow the shared room principle, that can be in the same building for several entities or totally delocalised. Sharing of these spaces, if defined properly, allows small companies to reduce their operating workloads and to use specific rooms (video-conferencing, large conference space).
Multiply the types of spaces
Before discussing the change in arrangement, the action of meeting itself has changed, in direct relation with our new method of working. In fact, the meeting is has been democratised. It is no longer dreaded but is prompted. Hence, the number and the configuration of meeting spaces are often adapted. They should benumerous but also “informal”. In fact, in the recent years, the salaried people have separate workspace, in privacy and had to work with higher population, with more noise… On the other hand, all these changes are accepted only if there is increase in workspaces dedicated to the employees: telephonic cabins, concentration workspaces, brainstorming workspaces, libraries, break rooms… and new itemisations of traditional meeting rooms.
Two major types of meeting rooms haveto be defined.
They are much similarto the meeting rooms in the traditional sense. In this scenario, these are mainly the meetings planned in advance. Generally in case of multipleusages (presentations, executive committee, trainings, workgroups…), these spaces must be both practical and convivial. These rooms will therefore be equipped with items providing interactivity, exchanges and the creation (online reservation system, audio/videoconferencing equipment…). As it becomes necessary to receive public or clients, they can be partitioned rooms, set up on the first day close to main sections and elevator landings. They will also be adjoining coffee points and relaxation spaces for favouring informal discussions after the meeting. In spite of their corporate status when compared to other spaces, it is necessary to provide sufficient spaces to the employees for modularity. Rooms with removable partitions and rolling furniture will allow more major perspectives for change in their functions.
They are developed in companies in the form of p bubbles, small sitting rooms… they are generally placed in blind zone or in second day, in central nodes and close to open spaces. Since the shared and landscaped areaare widespread,there is a genuine need to provide, to employees, various types of small spaces allowing them to be isolated in for sake of concentration, to meet each other in small committees for ad-hoc meetings, to meet team members for brainstorming…purpose and requirements are numerous! Apart from their primary function, these elements are completely involved in layout of office areas, allowing to give rhythm to the space and to create ambiance. However, it is necessary to ensure “destandardisation” of the installations: create spaces based on regular screening as well as an increased modularity based on the change in activity. These informal spaces must be modifiable based on the progress of day and based on the functions preferred by the employees. A same space can be a reception, a break room or even a brainstorming room on a single day. Not giving any specific name to these locations allows desecrating the spaces in a non-conventional manner.
Stage of choices of furniture, decoration, acoustics, IT, audio-visual or reservation equipment are very significant. It is necessary to select furniture that can be flexible, easy to move or why not give them only the “meeting room” function. Other elements are also essential to set up the meeting rooms: it is necessary to use a powerful WIFI installation or plan a sufficient number of RJ sockets, so that all participants can use their computer. Few elements also favour the creativity and the exchanges such as partition walls on which it is possible to write. It should be borne in mind that the concentration requires certain level of ergonomics and comfort.
However, few traps remain that are to be avoided: a multiplicity of decorations anda heavy design have the risk of creating distractions. Besides, we need to remain vigilant as not to do too much. In fact, a heavy design or costly investments on this type of space can cause questioning, by employees, on financial priorities of the company. However, these spaces should be “beautiful” and “comfortable” … in general!